Moscow’s Defense Ministry recently denied any rumors of a further change at the top of the Russian General Staff. The “rumor” had appeared on December 11 on some Russian social media on which comments were read regarding the possibility that President Vladimir Putin wanted to remove General Valeriy Gerasimov at the end of the year, replacing him with a candidate defined as a “compromise” and acceptable to the military as a whole, a person who should have unlimited powers, including over the budget, with the task of winning what Moscow still calls its Special Military Operation.However, these rumors for now appear to be speculations from those who do not support Putin’s line, which a few weeks ago the same senior officer was presumed missing together with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, while Gerasimov was actually present at a meeting of the Russian military command held on December 16, an event in which Putin himself also participated and during which relations between the two had appeared cordial.
True, from October to today, Vladimir Putin had instructed Minister Shoigu to plan a development of the armed forces in the sense of modernization and increase in personnel – following the Makarov doctrine, Gerasimov’s predecessor – in the light of the Ukrainian experience , giving it until the end of the year. Therefore, it is easy to think that the inferences were generated by the preliminary judgment on the work of General Gerasimov in the light of the results obtained on the battlefield by his subordinates. The judgments are also severe on the work of Colonel Oleg Gorshenin, head of the National Defense Management Center, as he is responsible for combat training operations and personnel mobilization.
On the other hand, nothing leaks out on the position of the head of the main operational directorate Sergei Rudskoi, appointed in 2015; of Fanil Sarvarov, head of the operational training directorate since 2016, and of Ivan Buvaltsev, who has headed the combat training directorate since 2013 and who is currently in charge of the combat training of the people drafted with the mobilization of last September. There is no shortage of doubts about the effectiveness of the operations directed by Alexander Linets, head of the Main Directorate of Special Projects of the President of the Russian Federation since 2015, a post that includes mobilization measures.
Obviously any possible change at the top of the military leadership, punctually announced and foreseen by Western intelligence services, is a source of analysis by NATO to understand how Putin intends to change the strategy of the attack on Ukraine in 2023 and how they intend to achieve the assigned goals. In particular, at the moment the big question is whether Putin really wants to pursue a further escalation, understanding whether Russia will limit itself as now to an intensified war campaign – the saturation of Kiev’s defenses leads to the inevitable use of a large amount of missiles – or if there will be a major offensive by infantry and mechanized units once spring arrives. Action, however, which would lead to the need for a second mobilization which has been discussed for some time in the Russian media, even though all news in this regard is regularly denied by the Kremlin.