Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed General Valery Gerasimov as the new top commander of Russian forces in Ukraine.

“Army General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, has been appointed commander of the Joint Grouping of Troops (Forces),” the ministry said only three months after the previous one.

Gerasimov, who has served as chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces since 2012, will replace General Sergey Surovikin, who has overseen the invasion since October. Consequently, Surovikin was demoted to deputy in Gerasimov’s service.
Gerasimov’s appointment comes as Russia is trying to turn the tide of the war after nearly a year of fighting to make gains amid a strong Ukrainian counteroffensive that has freed thousands of square kilometers of Ukraine from Russian control.
Russia appears to be on the precipice of making its most significant battlefield advance since August, nearly seizing control of a small mining town called Soledar.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced in a Telegram post the appointment of Gerasimov, who was chosen to help organize closer interactions between branches of Russia’s military and to enhance the “effectiveness” of top Russian soldiers.

Who is Valery Gerasimov?

The BBC reported in 2012 that Gerasimov joined the Soviet Union Army in 1977, becoming a member of the Northern Group of Forces stationed in Poland.
He then served in the Far Eastern and Baltic military districts before becoming chief of staff for the 58th Army in the North Caucasus Military District in 1999, according to the BBC.
The Second Chechen War began later that year when fighting broke out between separatists from the Russian province of Chechnya and Russian forces.
The cited outlet reported that Gerasimov was involved in the arrest of a Russian army colonel named Yury Budanov, who was convicted of murdering a Chechen girl during the war. Gerasimov was appointed commander of the 58th Army in 2001 as the conflict continued.
Gerasimov served as chief of staff of the Far Eastern Military District, where he was reprimanded for a large disease outbreak among soldiers, from 2003 to 2005. He also served as commander of the St. Petersburg and Moscow Military Districts and the Central, constituting a large part of central Russia.

In 2013 he argued in a Russian newspaper that the lines between war and peace in the 21st century have “blurred” as wars are no longer officially declared.
Gerasimov is married and has a son. He was born in 1955 to a working-class family in the Russian city of Kazan, some 800 kilometers east of Moscow.

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