War in Ukraine: Guerassimov appointed offensive commander, a dangerous position
According to several observers, Valery Gerassimov could act as a “lightning rod” in case of new failures by the Russian military in Ukraine.
VSRussian general Valery Gerassimov, open to medals and at the top of the military hierarchy for a decade, has been appointed commander of the offensive in Ukraine after an exemplary career. The selection of the chief of staff to lead this military operation, an unusual experience, comes after several disappointments for the forces in Moscow, amid setbacks and heavy casualties during the strike at the end of December. The Ministry of Defense justified this appointment on Wednesday by “expanding the scope of the missions to be performed” and “necessity of closer interaction between the components of the armed forces.”
Valery Guerassimov, 67, who speaks little in public, is regularly seen, covered in his green uniform, listening to Vladimir Putin during maneuvers or meetings about military operations. Since November 2012, he has served as the Chief of the General Staff, the highest post in the army after the Minister of Defense. During the appointment, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented Valery Gerasimov as a “soldier through and through” and already having “great experience” in high command and in the field.READ ALSO Winter of all dangers on the Ukrainian frontValery Gerasimov “founded the army.” He has been preparing Russia for this war (in Ukraine) for ten years. Now he has to prove that he didn’t do it in vain,” said a Russian analyst who spoke to Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity. .
“Lightning rod” in case of failure
In a Telegram account, Russian political scientist Yekaterina Shulman believes that his advance is a “victory for the legitimate forces” in the growing competition between the army and the “pirates” of the Wagner paramilitary group on the Ukrainian front.
General Guerasimov replaces Sergei Surovik, who was praised by Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigogine and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who sent his army to fight in Ukraine. But other observers, such as Rybar, an influential Russian military blogger, point out that Valery Gerassimov, despite his brilliant record, can now act as a “lightning rod” and jump in the event of further setbacks.READ ALSO “Putin will face the international court, this is the meaning of history”
Harbinger of “Hybrid War”.
General Gerasimov, who was born in 1955, is of the same generation as Vladimir Putin, originally from the Republic of Tatarstan, and after graduating from the combat tank school in 1977, conquered all the levels of the hierarchy. In 1993-1995, the commander of the motorized rifle division, then he led the 58e the army took part in the second war in Chechnya, which began in 1999 on the initiative of Vladimir Putin and resulted in the reoccupation of this territory of the Caucasus by Moscow.
Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006 during this conflict, confirmed that General Guerasimov knew “how to protect his honor as an officer” by going to arrest a Russian colonel accused of kidnapping and killing a Chechen. A noisy fight. French General Pierre de Villiers, who was Chief of the Defense Staff between 2014 and 2017, told BFMTV that his then-colleague Valery Guerassimov “recognized only one thing, the balance of power.” “Not the element of language, not the loudness of the voice, but the balance of power, what is real,” he said.
READ ALSO7 lessons of the war in UkraineIn Western observer circles, Valery Gerasimov is often described as the father of the doctrine defining “hybrid warfare” involving conventional and unconventional forces. If the official existence of this doctrine and the possible role of Valery Guerassimov are very controversial, the Russian general noted in 2013 “the tendency to erase the border between a state of peace and a state of war.”
“Wars are no longer declared, nor do they follow a normal trajectory once they start,” he added, stressing the growing importance of “non-military means.” The following year, in 2014, Crimea was annexed by Moscow and a conflict broke out between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists, who benefited from Moscow’s unofficial support, which experts call a “hybrid war”.