UK intelligence believes Russia has fired senior commanders who “performed poorly”

Zahid Mahmood in London

Russia has fired senior commanders who were considered to have “performed poorly” during the initial stages of the Ukraine invasion, an intelligence update by the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) said on Thursday.

“Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv,” the MOD said on Twitter.

Vice Admiral Igor Ospipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has also likely been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April.”

Russian Chief of General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov “likely” remains in his post, but it’s “unclear” whether he retains the confidence of President Vladimir Putin, the statement continued.

The British intelligence update also said that a culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is “probably prevalent” within the Russian military and security system.

“Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs,” the statement said.

“This will likely place further strain on Russia’s centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors,” it added.

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