Putin appoints a new commander for the Russian war in Ukraine

Russian president Russian President Vladimir Putin He replaced the commander leading his troops in Ukraine Only three months after handing over the job.

General Valery Gerasimov will take over Sergey SurovkinThe change comes as Kyiv warns Moscow of planning a new major offensive after months of setbacks on the battlefield, the Defense Ministry said in a Telegram on Wednesday.

Surovikin became the first person to assume sole responsibility for the campaign in October, and his tenure has been marked by the aerial bombardment of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s withdrawal from the vital southern city of Kherson.

The ministry said he He will now serve as one of Gerasimov’s three deputies, along with Army General Oleg Salyukov and Colonel Alexei Kim, as part of a new “joint group of forces.”

It added that the “increasing level of command” was “related to the expanded set of tasks”, and the need for closer cooperation between branches of the Russian Armed Forces.

said Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think-tank Twitter that he did not believe Gerasimov’s appointment came “because Surovikin is seen as a failure”, although he said it was possible that the apparent demotion was “motivated by political reasons”.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s forces seemed poised for a breakthrough in the bitter fighting on the eastern front lines.

Battles continued to rage around Solidar, a ruined salt-mining town that saw one of the fiercest and most expensive ground battles of the nearly 11-month war.

Ukrainian officials said the country’s soldiers have continued to hold out despite heavy fighting and a claim by a Russian mercenary group to have captured the town.

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NBC News has not verified either side’s claims.

The capture of the city is likely to be seen as an important, albeit Pyrrhic, victory for the Kremlin, which has suffered Embarrassing defeats on the battlefield And Rare signs of anxiety At home as the war approaches one year.

Located in Donetsk Province, the area is one of four that Putin illegally claimed to annex last year, and is notable for its vast, unused tunnels.

This is a breaking news story. . Please check back for updates

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