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Purge of generals in Russia in the middle of the Ukrainian war

Purge of generals in Russia in the middle of the Ukrainian war

In recent weeks, Russia detained several generals and officers to restructure the senior staff of the Armed Forces, questioned for high levels of corruption and inefficiency at a time when its troops seek to give new impetus to its offensive in Ukraine.

The most recent arrest is that of General Vadim Shamarin, deputy chief of the General Staff for communications, whose arrest was ordered on Wednesday by a military court for having “accepted a particularly large bribe”.

This high-ranking officer in charge of communications, an area in which Russian forces had significant problems at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine according to analysts, faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Arrests have multiplied in the Ministry of Defense and in the upper echelons of the army since the end of April, but the Kremlin denied that there was a purge campaign underway, and assured that on this occasion it was a typical anti-corruption operation.

The fight against corruption is a continuous work, it is not a campaign” of purges, the spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov, assured the press.

Before Shamarin, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov and Yuri Kuznetsov, head of human resources at the ministry, were arrested for corruption.

Another general, Ivan Popov, was recently detained for “fraud”. This general, former commander of the 58th army deployed in Ukraine, had been dismissed last July for having, he said, revealed the difficulties faced by Russian troops on the Ukrainian front.

At the same time, this cleansing in the upper echelons of the Russian army has promoted the arrival of technocrats within the Kremlin’s war machine.

Vladimir Putin’s long-time Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, was replaced in mid-May by an economist with no military experience, Andrei Belousov.

“Blatant corruption”

For Russian military expert Alexander Khramchikhin, the authorities knew “for a long time“that the defense budget was used inefficiently, but in times of war, this reality”It’s become too obvious to turn a blind eye”.

Even more so if one takes into account that Russia, the target of Western sanctions, has reoriented its economy towards the war industry, with a 70% increase in the federal budget for defense planned for 2024.

To avoid making waves, the Kremlin waited for the cabinet reshuffle after Vladimir Putin’s re-election for a fifth term before launching its witch hunt.

In times of war, money must be spent correctly. Hence Belousov’s appointment: he has to make sure that everything is done correctly and that money is not wasted (…) Time will tell if he succeeds”says the analyst.

Corruption at the top of the army was one of the main criticisms of the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who instigated a frustrated rebellion in June 2023 and died two months later in a plane crash in circumstances that remain unclear.

Still, Prigozhin’s two sworn enemies were not “purged”: Former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was appointed secretary of the Russian Security Council, and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov remains in his position.

The future of another general, Sergei Surovikin, highly respected by the troops but fallen into disgrace after the Wagner revolt, remains uncertain. The last time he was seen in public was in September 2023, during a visit to Algeria.

The situation (in the army) is serious and the corruption is blatant”says a prominent Russian military analyst, who requested anonymity.

In his opinion, Vladimir Putin is aware that the war of attrition against Ukraine, which has been going on for more than two years, cannot last forever and he is forced to “taking radical measures”, “changing the men behind“, where “there are the problems”.

The objective is “get results” on the front before the Ukrainian army regains strength with the arrival of new Western weaponry and the mobilization of new soldiers.

The most important thing for the Kremlin is to win the war, not defeat corruption”, he maintains.

Source: Gestion