It has been just under a week since Putin appointed Gen. Sergey “Armageddon” Surovikin to take charge of the “special operation” in Ukraine. Today, he was part of a coordinated announcement of the need for civilians to be evacuated from the western bank of the Dnieper River near Kherson.
The new commander of Moscow’s army in Ukraine has announced that civilians were being “resettled” from the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson, describing the military situation as “tense”.
“The enemy continually attempts to attack the positions of Russian troops,” Sergei Surovikin said in his first televised interview since being appointed earlier this month, adding that the situation was particularly difficult around the occupied southern city of Kherson…
“Further actions and plans regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the developing military-tactical situation, which is not easy. We will act consciously, in a timely manner, without ruling out difficult decisions,” he added.
Gen. Surovikin’s announcement was made at the same time the Russia backed mayor of Kherson announced an “organized relocation” of civilians.
“I took the difficult but correct decision to announce the organized relocation of the civilian population of Beryslav, Bilozerka, Snihurivka and Oleksandrivka communities to the left bank of the Dnipro river,” Vladimir Saldo said on Telegram, referring to the eastern bank of the river.
“This decision was prompted by the creation of large-scale defensive fortifications so that any attack could be repelled. There is no place for civilians where the military operate. Let the Russian army do its job,” he said.
Saldo said that any civilians who decided to move on “to the regions of Russia” would be given assistance with housing.
In his interview with RT, Gen. Surovikin also criticized the “criminal regime” of Ukraine for sending under-trained recruits to the front lines to be killed. This take is clearly for domestic consumption in Russia where full mobilization has been mocked even on state TV for its failure to train and supply Russian conscripts before sending them to the front lines. Russian men are being treated like cannon fodder and this general is basically accusing Ukraine of doing the same.
Gen. Surovikin also claimed his goal wasn’t to advance quickly but to protect the life of each Russian soldier and “the civilian population.” He says this even as Russia is using artillery to take out civilian power stations throughout Ukraine so that people are left without heat in the winter.
🇷🇺🇺🇦Longer translated video of General General Surovikin-Surovikin: “The Ukrainian authorities use nationalist detachments against their military, who shoot everyone who tries to leave the battlefield” pic.twitter.com/LFb9fx8wVo
— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZgeopolitics) October 18, 2022
His claim that all Russia wants is for “Ukraine to be independent from the West and NATO, a state friendly to Russia” is good Soviet logic. Here’s the problem. The vast majority of the 44 million people who live in Ukraine don’t want to be friends with Russia, i.e. controlled by the Kremlin? In Putin’s view, what those millions of people want doesn’t matter, just as the opinions of his own people don’t matter. But Ukraine is right to not want to become part of his authoritarian regime.
Putting aside all of the Russian propaganda, what may be most remarkable here is that Gen. Surovikin is hinting that the future of Kherson is in doubt on state TV. That sort of transparency is not something we’ve really seen much from Russian officials in the past eight months. If there’s an impending loss in the south like the one we saw in the east, at least people will be better prepared for it this time.