Russia fires senior commanders as MoD claims culture of “cover-ups and scape-goating” likely in Russian military

Russia have removed senior commanders who have performed poorly during the invasion of Ukraine according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Mr Putin launched the invasion on February 24 in what he said was an effort to check Nato’s expansion but has seen that strategy backfire, with troops grinding to a halt amid heavy resistance from Ukrainian forces.

The MoD said a culture of “cover-ups and scape-goating” is likely exceptionally common and many within the Russian military will want to avoid personal culpability.

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An update from the MoD claimed that the lack of progress on the fronts in Ukraine has resulted in senior commanders being removed from positions.

The update read: “In recent weeks, Russia has fired senior commanders who are considered to have performed poorly during the opening stages of its invasion of Ukraine.

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"Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv.

"Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has also likely been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April.

A Russian military truck painted with the letter Z is seen behind a destroyed petrol station in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP) (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

"Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov likely remains in post, but it is unclear whether he retains the confidence of President Putin.

“A culture of cover-ups and scape-goating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system.”

It added: “Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs.

"This will likely place further strain on Russia's centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions.”

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia’s reported use of “laser weapons” in its invasion of his country is a sign of their failure.

Zelensky spoke just hours after the Russian deputy prime minister in charge of military development claimed secret laser technology was already in use in Ukraine.

According to reports from Russia's Tass news agency more than half of the Ukrainian fighters who were holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant have now left.