Russian general sacked for ‘speaking the truth’ about Ukraine war

Image of Major General Ivan Popov, who commanded the 58th Combined Arms Army of Russia - Russian Defense Ministry/Files
Image of Major General Ivan Popov, who commanded the 58th Combined Arms Army of Russia – Russian Defense Ministry/Files

A Russian general recently claimed that he was relieved of his command after he pointed out the dire situation on the Ukrainian front.

According to him, Russian soldiers had become vulnerable because of the failures of high-ranking military officers.

On 24 June, despite a recent mutiny by Wagner’s mercenaries, which posed a significant domestic challenge to the Russian state, President Vladimir Putin retained Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov in their positions. chose to keep.

Major General Ivan Popov, former commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army, revealed in a voice message shared by Russian lawmaker Andrei Gurlyov that he was sacked after honestly reporting the situation at the front to higher authorities.

Popov expressed concern about Russian soldiers being targeted by Ukrainian artillery fire and criticized the army’s lack of proper counter-artillery systems and enemy artillery reconnaissance.

The authenticity of the voice message has not been independently verified, and the Ministry of Defense has not commented on Popov’s dismissal.

It is unclear when the message was recorded, and Popov’s current whereabouts are unknown.

This public criticism of Russia’s military leadership by a veteran general, less than three weeks after the Wagner mutiny, suggests ongoing discontent within the Russian military as it engages in its largest land battle in Europe since World War II. is attached.

President Putin, who has been Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, warned that the uprising risked plunging the country into civil war and compared it to the revolutionary upheavals of 1917.

While the Kremlin has attempted to show a sense of calm, Russian officials and diplomats have told Reuters that the full outcome of the uprising, which Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed was aimed at, rests entirely with Shoigu and Gerasimov. The account had to be settled, it has not come to the fore yet.

Prigozhin and the deputy commander of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, have not been seen in public since the uprising.

For months, Prigozhin had been openly insulting Putin’s most senior military figures, using offensive language that puzzled Russian officials but did not respond publicly to Putin, Shoigu or Gerasimov.

Popov, 48, revealed that he faced a pivotal moment when he decided to speak the truth to his superiors. He explained that he could not lie on behalf of his dead comrades and outlined all the current problems. It is not clear when he raised these concerns.

In 2017, the official newspaper of Russia’s Armed Forces published a profile of Popov, highlighting Russia’s struggle against separatists in Chechnya and his previous service in the 2008 war in Georgia.

A Telegram channel linked to Wagner’s mercenaries claimed that Popov had raised the issue with Gerasimov about withdrawing exhausted soldiers from the front line, although Reuters could not verify this report.

Notably, Russia’s major state television channels did not cover Popov’s comments in their main news programs, but respected Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on them.

Russian war bloggers were divided in their interpretations, with some viewing Popov’s statements as defiance and others considering him a respected general who was not in favor with top officers.

Popov expressed uncertainty about his future, suggesting that high-ranking officials saw him as a threat and planned to remove him within a day by issuing orders from the Minister of Defense. He said, “I am waiting for my fate.”

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