After massive casualties in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense allegedly removed Colonel-General Rustam Muradov as head of the Eastern Group of Forces (EGF).
The British defense ministry noted that it is the most high-profile dismissal in the Russian military this year, citing accusations on Russian social media in its weekly intelligence briefing on Thursday.
Some of the worst sieges and ongoing combat between the Ukrainian and Russian military have occurred in Vuhledar town, located near Bakhmut.
Muradov’s activities attracted strong public condemnation from across the spectrum of Russian observers – including Muradov’s soldiers, the ministry claimed.
When the first full-scale invasion failed when the EGF tried to attack Kyiv from the northwest, Muradov “took over the EGF.”
Despite his reputation as one of Moscow’s most seasoned military commanders, thanks to his contributions to Russia’s military gains in Syria and Chechnya, Russian commander Muradov is now responsible for significant personnel and weaponry casualties.
As Russia fails to progress in the Donbas, the ministry has warned that more layoffs are imminent.
Vuhledar, located 100 miles southwest of Bakhmut, is strategically important for Ukraine because of its high location, say local commanders embedded in the town’s eastern sector.
Taking Vuhledar would provide Russian troops a strategic advantage since they would have “fire control” over settlements to the north, a crucial part of the battlefield for Ukraine.
The 72nd mechanized brigade of the Ukrainian army has reinforced the town in the eastern sector.
The purported dismissal of Mr. Muradov from leadership was tied to problems surrounding Vuhledar, according to a source cited by The Moscow Times.
In one event, dozens of Russian tanks were damaged after being instructed to advance in a single file near Vuhledar without demining equipment.
The reorganization of the military was a sign of mounting strain on the Kremlin. After a series of offensives by Kyiv’s army in October, which shifted the tide of the conflict, General Surovikin was designated Russia’s senior military commander in Ukraine.
In another shift in recent months, as the Russian president looks for a success story to pitch at home, Moscow chose Valery Gerasimov, head of the general staff, as the overall commander of troops in Ukraine.