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Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, chief of the Black Sea Fleet, and Lt Gen Serhiy Kisel, who led the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, have been suspended, the MoD said. Russian generals are now “increasingly distracted” by trying to avoid blame for Russia’s failed invasion of Ukraine.
Putin had to drop plans to seize the capital Kyiv after his forces ran out of food and fuel. Russia is thought unlikely to regain the initiative as its generals are so keen to avoid blame, they defer decisions.
Osipov was humiliated when Ukraine sank his flagship the Moskva and Kisel failed to capture Kharkiv when months of heavy bombardment failed to break its defenders.
Ukraine’s second city was a key early objective for Putin and the Kremlin is said to have redeployed troops to the Donbas region.
Gen Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s top soldier, is said to be in post but it is “unclear” if Putin rates him still.
The MoD said: “Russia has fired senior commanders who are considered to have performed poorly. A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is probably prevalent.
“Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability.
“This will likely place further strain on Russia’s centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer decisions.”
An advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said there will no ceasefire until Russia withdraws all of its troops.
Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted: “Ukraine is not interested in a new ‘Minsk (Protocol)’ and the war starting up again in a few years. Until Russia is ready to fully liberate occu- pied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money.”
Ukrainian saboteurs blew up tracks to halt an armoured train of Russian troops in the seized southern city of Melitopol while forces shelled a border village in Russia’s western region of Kursk early yesterday, killing at least one civilian, said governor Roman Starovoit.
Elsewhere, US President Joe Biden backed Sweden and Finland’s bids to join Nato as the war continued.
In a press conference with Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö he said: “It’s a very, very great day.
“I’m proud to welcome and offer the strong support of the United States for the applications of two great democracies, and two close, highly capable partners.”
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