Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general to lead the war in Ukraine as its army changes its plans after the failed capture of kyiv, according to a US official and a European official.
Army General Alexander Dvornikovcommander of the Southern Military District of Russia, was appointed commander of the theater of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine, according to important sources.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, “No appointment of a general can erase the fact that Russia has already faced strategic failure in Ukraine.” Sullivan described the general as having a history of brutality against civilians in Syria and said, “we can expect more of the same.”
Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, he said:
This general will be just another perpetrator of crimes and brutalities against Ukrainian civilians. And the United States, as I have said before, is determined to do all it can to support the Ukrainians as they resist him and the forces he commands.
Dvornikov rose to prominence while leading Russia’s group of forces in Syria, where Moscow has been waging a military campaign since 2015 to bolster President Bashar Assad’s regime during a devastating civil war.
Dvornikov, began his career as a platoon commander in 1982. He fought in the second war in Chechnya and held several leadership positions before being named in charge of Russian troops in Syria in 2015.
In 2016, Putin awarded Dvornikov the Hero of Russia Medal, one of the country’s highest honors. Dvornikov has served as commander of the Southern Military District since 2016, the Association Press reported.
A European official told CNN the appointment “shows a Russian recognition that this is going extremely wrong and that they have to do something differently.”
“They do things the same way,” the official added.
Dvornikov, 60, was the first commander of Russian military operations in Syria, after Putin sent troops there in September 2015 to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During Dvornikov’s command of Syria from September 2015 to June 2016, Russian aircraft supported the Assad regime and its allies as they laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, bombing densely populated neighborhoods and making many civilian casualties. The city fell to Syrian government forces in December 2016.
Russian forces have used an equally brutal approach in parts of Ukraine, striking residential buildings in major cities and demolishing much of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.