MOSCOW: Russia has appointed a new acting head of its aerospace forces to replace general Sergei Surovikin, who vanished from sight after a brief Wagner mercenary mutiny against the top brass in June, the state RIA news agency reported today.
During the June 22-24 revolt, Surovikin, who once commanded Russia’s overall war effort in Ukraine – something Moscow calls a “special military operation” – appeared in a video, looking uncomfortable and without insignia, urging Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to stand down.
Since the mutiny, which was ended by negotiations and a deal, unconfirmed Russian and foreign news outlets have said that Surovikin was being investigated for possible complicity in the revolt and being held under house arrest.
“Ex-chief of the Russian air and space forces Sergei Surovikin has now been relieved of his post, while colonel-general Viktor Afzalov, head of the main staff of the air force, is temporarily acting as commander-in-chief of the air force,” an unnamed source told RIA.
Surovikin earned the nickname “General Armageddon” during Russia’s military intervention in Syria.
He was placed in charge of Russian military operations in Ukraine last October, but in January that role was handed to general Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, and Surovikin was made a deputy to Gerasimov.