- Russia has appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to lead its Ukraine invasion, reports say.
- Dvornikov became the first commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria during Russia’s 2015 intervention.
- The experienced general is reportedly tasked with “improving coordination between Russian forces.”
Russia is believed to have reorganized its military leadership in Ukraine, appointing General Alexander Dvornikov as its new commander, reports say.
Western officials told the BBC that Dvornikov, a general who played a significant role in the Russian bombardment of Syria, has been put in charge by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dvornikov has been tasked with “improving coordination between Russian forces in Ukraine,” the outlet said.
The move comes as Russia restrategizes and shifts its focus to Ukraine’s Donbas region, after its invasion stalls in much of the country.
The Kremlin is hoping that experienced Alexander Dvornikov, who is currently Commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, could restore the honor of the Russian army after its mauling on the road to Kyiv.
Russian forces have suffered heavy losses since it began its invasion of Ukraine, and reports suggest that morale is deteriorating.
A veteran of Russia’s bloody campaign in Syria
Dvornikov joined the Soviet Army in 1978 and went on to command several regiments in the Russian military.
In September 2015, he became the first commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria, during Putin’s military intervention to support the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Dvornikov was awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation in 2016 for his leadership in Syria, the highest military honor in the country.
A UN investigation into atrocities committed in Syria said that Russia was partly to blame for war crimes due to indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas without “a specific military objective.”
Following his time in Syria, Dvornikov was appointed Commander of the Southern Military District.
A report by the Institute for the Study of War said that Dvornikov drew on his experience in Syria to “reorganize the Southern Military District into a joint force grouping capable of operating effectively on land, sea, and air.”
The change in leadership could be seen as “a sign of Russian weakness,” Gwythian Prins, a military strategy expert who’s advised NATO, told the BBC.
Prins noted that Russia has lost several of its most senior commanders in Ukraine, including Colonel Andrei Mordvichev and Lt. Gen. Yakov Rezantsev.
“So yes they’ve brought in someone who’s a well-known bombardier, they have reverted from the failed strategy of the blitzkrieg, which was intended to happen, and they’ve now gone back to terrorizing people by rubblization–and Mr. Dvornikov is very good at that sort of thing,” said Prins.
The Ukrainian leadership and western experts believe Russia is poised to launch a new offensive in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday warned of a conflict that could result in the biggest war in centuries.
Speaking to the German newspaper BILD, owned by Axel Springer, Insider’s parent company, Zelenskyy predicted intense fighting in the coming days.
“It could be a big war in Donbas — like the world has not seen in hundreds of years,” he told BILD reporter Paul Ronzheimer.
“We will go on defending our country until the end,” the Ukrainian president said.