Russian generals turning on one another to avoid ‘purge’

Moscow’s military top brass being blamed for Ukraine ‘quagmire’, defence minister says

Vladimir Putin during meetings at the Kremlin
Vladimir Putin during meetings at the Kremlin
(Image credit: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian generals are “turning in on themselves” as the war in Ukraine turns into a “disaster”, the UK defence secretary has claimed.

During a visit to British troops stationed in Finland, Ben Wallace said Moscow’s military chiefs are blaming each other for the invasion’s poor progress and fear being purged by Vladimir Putin if the “quagmire” turns into a retreat, said The Times.

Wallace said the generals are being made scapegoats for the Russian military’s shortcomings and are “always terrified they are about to be purged and pushed out”.

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The secretary of state added that generals were getting closer and closer to the front line trying to “sort out this quagmire that they’re in”, but said their approach of “shouting and screaming” at people “tends not to get the best result”.

Wallace’s comments came as officials in Washington told The New York Times that US intelligence has allowed Ukrainian forces to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the conflict.

Ukraine claims to have killed around 12 generals on the front line, a figure that has “astonished military analysts”, the paper said. US agencies have used a variety of sources, “including classified and commercial satellites”, to trace troop movements.

The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield intelligence secret out of fear it might “provoke” a wider war, the paper added. But The Telegraph said US officials claim the level of intelligence-sharing was “without precedent in modern warfare”.

General Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel this week that “there’s a significant amount of intelligence flowing to Ukraine from the United States”, adding that Washington has “opened up the pipes”.

Vladimir Putin’s top general in Ukraine, Valery Gerasimov, came close to being killed by laser-guided artillery fire this week when intelligence revealed he was on a covert visit to the Russian front line, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence said.

Wallace said Gerasimov is “in fall guy territory,” warning: “Be careful if you’re out in sole command of something in the Russian system, because it may not be for long.”

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