Vladimir Putin has appointed a new commander in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, who has been described as “ruthless” and a warning sign that the president is expecting to play the “long game”.
According to former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Sir Richard Shirreff, Putin's new head of the campaign is “brutal”.
He also said he believed Putin’s strategy is to focus on “out-suffering Ukraine”.
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The Russian president has made the most dramatic change at the top since the beginning of the invasion, by replacing commander Sergey Surovikin with Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov.
Surovikin only oversaw what is known as the "special military operation" since October.
It was the fourth time Putin has reshuffled the command of his war.
Despite helping to plan to invasion, Gerasimov has only made one reported visit to the command centre inside Ukraine.
Shirreff has met Gerasimov several times, describing him as "the sort of Russian general out of Soviet central casting."
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He said: "He will be ruthless, he will be brutal, he will take a sledgehammer to smash a nut. He will not be in any way clever, despite writing up this so-called 'Gerasimov doctrine,' which was probably written for him and he signed it."
The foreign policy doctrine details the coordination of all aspects of a campaign, controlling the information space, striking into enemy territory and targeting critical infrastructure.
Shirreff said: "I think it's an indicator that Putin is in this for the long game”, making reference to the announcement that Russia is to increase its force size to 1.5 million.
It has been taken as evidence of preparations for a protracted war.
Shirreff believes it is "an indicator that Putin recognises this is a long-term fight—he is not going to back down and his strategy is to out-suffer Ukraine."
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