Russia appoints new head Ukraine special military operation

Russia’s defense minister has appointed Valery Gerasimov as commander of the Joint Group of Forces leading the country's special military operation in Ukraine, reports.

Gerasimov replaces Sergei Surovikin, who had been appointed to the role on Oct. 8, 2022, and was in charge of Russian forces during their retreat from large swaths of Ukraine’s Kherson region. Surovikin will now serve as a deputy commander, according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.

“On 11 January 2023, Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu assigns new leadership of special military operation,” the ministry said Wednesday on its official Telegram channel. 

“Chief of General Staff General of the Army Valery Gerasimov has been assigned the commander of the Joint Group of Forces,” it said.

“The deputy commanders are: the Commander-in-Chief of Aerospace Forces General of the Army Sergei Surovikin, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army General of the Army Oleg Salyukov, as well as the Deputy Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Aleksey Kim,” it added.

The ministry said that the changes were necessary because of “the amplified range of tasks, the necessity of closer cooperation between services and branches of the Armed Forces, as well as of improving the quality of all types of maintenance and efficiency of commanding the groups of forces.”

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