Russia appoints an air force general to lead its forces in Ukraine

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Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday appointed Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, Moscow’s third high-level military appointment in a week.

The change comes after the reported removal earlier this week of the commanders of two of Russia’s five military regions, after their forces suffered a series of dramatic setbacks in northeastern and southern Ukraine in the last weeks.

The ministry did not say who, if any, will replace Surovikin.

British military intelligence said in April that General Alexander Dvornikov had been appointed to take charge of Russian forces in Ukraine, nearly two months after Moscow launched what it calls its “special military operation” in an attempt to “centralize the command and control.”

However, Moscow has not said that anyone is in overall military command of the operation.

Surovikin, 55, has headed Russia’s Air and Space Forces since 2017. According to the ministry’s website, he commanded a guards division stationed in Chechnya in 2004, during Moscow’s war against Islamist rebels, and received a medal for his service in Syria in 2017.

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