On 24 January, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov – appointed on 11 January as commander of the Joint Force Grouping in the ‘Special Operation’ zone – and Deputy Minister for Defence gave an interview in which he expressed his key points for the Special Operation in Ukraine.

“Russia and the Russian Armed Forces are opposed by virtually the entire collective West”. He went on to say: ‘Such a level of military intensity has never been seen in the modern history of Russia. To stabilise the situation and protect the new territories, the General Staff had to prepare partial mobilisation plans. The system was not fully adapted to modern conditions – everything had to be arranged on the fly, but as a result of the concerted actions of the General Staff officers and the authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation, the process was successful,’ Gerasimov said.

According to Gerasimov then: ‘The Plan of Construction and Development of the Russian Armed Forces has undergone changes that take into account the new mode of warfare and new threats to Russia’s military security. Today the main threats are NATO’s desire to expand at the expense of Finland and Sweden and the use of Ukraine as an instrument of a hybrid war’.

This, according to the Russian General, has required a different commitment for the Moscow Armed Forces: ‘The main changes in the Russian Armed Forces’ construction and development plan in this context are the creation of the Moscow and Leningrad military districts, the formation of three motorised rifle divisions in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, and the creation of an army corps in Karelia’.

In Gerasimov’s pool of high-ranking military personnel recently appointed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is the new commander of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, Sergey Kuzovlev.

General Sergei Kuzovlev was appointed commander of the Southern Military District shortly before the New Year. Unlike many Russian generals who are ‘parachuted’ into the post, Kuzovlev ‘sweated’ his appointment because of his skills and achievements, and not because he was ‘pushed’ by the country’s military and political leaders.

He does not have a bad relationship with Yunus-bek Yevkurov, Deputy Defence Minister. When he was still Chief of Staff of the Southern Military District, Kuzovlev was known to his men and officers for his humanity and for untangling internal feuds from other military ranks.

According to British intelligence, Kuzovlev was not appointed at first because he ‘could not cope with the preparation of the offensive in the direction of Liman’. Apparently, however, London’s conclusion is not entirely correct because his task was to establish cooperation within the district and initiate horizontal communication between the departments. Now Kuzovlev is fully in command of his district, the problems of which he knows well, with the classic carte blanche to resolve the not insignificant discord that plagues the district so strategically important in the development of military operations.

Graziella Giangiulio

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