WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Russia on Wednesday replaced the general leading its war in Ukraine.
- Gen. Valery Gerasimov, one of the original architects of the invasion, is replacing Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who was appointed to head the war three months ago.
- Meanwhile, one of Ukraine’s presidential advisors said the country will have a chance to win against Russia in 2023 if it receives more Western weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday appointed a new top commander of his forces in Ukraine in another shake-up of military leadership.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced Gen. Valery Gerasimov will be the next commander of the Joint Group of Forces in Ukraine, replacing Gen. Sergey Surovikin, who was appointed to the position in October.
The Defense Ministry cited “the need to organize closer interaction” between branches of the armed forces and for “improving the quality of all types of support and the effectiveness” of commanding Russian troops.
Surovikin was demoted to a deputy overseeing aerospace forces under Gerasimov.
Gerasimov has served as the chief of general staff of Russia’s armed forces since 2012. He is a veteran commander of the second Chechen war and is considered a key figure in Russian military planning.
Since launching its invasion of Ukraine last February, Russia has faced heavy losses and numerous setbacks in the war.
Surovikin oversaw campaigns in Syria and was known for his ruthlessness. He was appointed over the fall to help Russia make more headway in the war in Ukraine.
Russian forces are currently engaged in deadly fighting with Ukraine in the eastern region of the country.
Also on Wednesday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said that Ukraine will have a chance to win the war this year if it receives more Western weapons, particularly long-range missiles and heavy tanks.
Otherwise, the war will grind on “for decades,” Podolyak told AFP.
“Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers will allow us to significantly accelerate the de-occupation of our territories,” he told AFP in an interview.
Last year, the U.S. sent Ukraine HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) that were credited with turning the tide of the conflict in Ukraine’s favor on several fronts.
“This capability has given the Ukrainians the potential to completely change the momentum and the direction of this war,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told CBS News.
Kyiv has also recently received similar French systems.
The U.S., however, has been hesitant to send long-range missile capacities to Ukraine over concernd that an escalation would pit the United States more directly against Russia.
“We will not attack Russia,” the senior advisor said. “We are waging an exclusively defensive war.”
Source: CBS News