Analysts say an unusual shake-up may represent a “possible purge” occurring within the Russian military commanders. U.S. News and World Report writes the Russian government appears to have fired top commanders and replaced them with lower-ranking officers.
The move is indicative of the Russian government’s failures in its invasion of Ukraine. “Casualties among Russia ad pro-Russian forces are mounting at an unsustainable rate in Ukraine, British intelligence reports, raising more questions about the extent to which Moscow can maintain its current pace of operations amid limited progress on the battlefield.”
The Institute for the Study of War has been documenting Russian operations since the invasion began on February 24, and published an analysis Wednesday stating “Russia will appoint a new commander for the headquarters overseeing operations in the region that includes Ukraine while also replacing the commander for the war itself.”
The changes indicate the Kremlin “may be in the process of radically reshuffling the command structure of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, indicating a possible purge of senior officers blamed for failures in Ukraine” states the institute.
U.S. News & World Report also notes that the casualty rate Russian and pro-Russian forces have endured “equals roughly 55% of its total force, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense” which “highlights the extraordinary attrition rate Russian and pro-Russian forces are suffering in the Donbas.”
Figures published last week by the Donetsk People’s Republic, part of the self-declared pro-Putin autonomous region in eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, claimed that more than 2,100 of its forces had died since operations began and nearly 9,000 had been wounded.
The losses of men and material have come at a staggering rate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began Feb. 24 and immediately encountered a stiff resistance from local forces backed with Western munitions and financial resources.
The number of Russian deaths are a closely guarded secret. Moscow in March placed the death toll at 1,351, but even then there was reason to believe it was far higher. A British estimate in April put the number around 15,000 – more than were killed in the Soviet Union’s nine-year war in Afghanistan – while other estimates project that as many as 40,000 have been injured.