May 29, 2024

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The War Between Russia and Ukraine: Latest News - The New York Times

The War Between Russia and Ukraine: Latest News – The New York Times

A top Russian general detained following a mutiny by mercenary tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin has been released, according to US officials and a person close to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who was seen as an ally of Mr. Prigozhin and earned the nickname “General Armageddon” for his brutal tactics in Syria, disappeared from public view in June after the mercenary leader and members of his Wagner Group moved against the Russian military leadership.

American officials say the general had advance knowledge of the uprising, and hours after it began, Russian authorities released a video showing General Surovikin, who appeared uncomfortable, calling on Wagner’s fighters to stand down.

US officials said that while General Surovikin appears to have been released from official detention, it remains unclear whether there are any remaining restrictions on his movement or other restrictions imposed by Russian authorities.

General Surovikin was released in the days following Mr. Prigozhin’s death in a The plane crashed late last month, said the person close to the Russian Defense Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, like American officials, to discuss a sensitive topic.

The source said that the general has retained his rank so far and is still technically an army officer, but he no longer has any career prospects. The Russian state news agency reported last month that General Surovikin had been formally removed from the post of commander of the Russian Air Force.

On Monday, General Surovikin appeared for the first time since the June mutiny in a photo posted on social media by a news outlet run by Russian news personality Ksenia Sobchak. The general is pictured in civilian clothes, wearing sunglasses, a hat and a button-up shirt, walking outside next to his wife in front of an ivy-covered wall. The location was not immediately clear from the photo.

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A post on the channel on the Telegram messaging app linked to Ms Sobchak said: “General Sergei Surovikin is out: alive and well, at home with his family in Moscow.”

Hours after the start of the Wagner Uprising, Russian authorities published a video clip of Genrak Surovikin calling on the fighters to step down.credit…Press Service of the Russian Ministry of Defense, via The Associated Press

Written by Alexei A. Venediktov, who headed the liberal Echo of Moscow radio station until the Kremlin shut it down last year, said late Monday that General Surovikin was at home with his family.

“He is on leave and at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense,” Mr. Venediktov posted on his Telegram channel.

From October to January, General Surovikin was the top Russian officer in charge of operations in Ukraine. He oversaw the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson and the shift to a defensive strategy, which included building a wall of extensive defenses known as the “Surovykin Line” that held back Ukrainian forces in their counterattack.

Mr. Prigozhin knew General Surovikin because Wagner fighters had served in Syria with Russian forces when he was commander-in-chief there. The mercenary leader praised the general’s appointment last year, describing him as a legendary figure and the most capable commander in the Russian army.

But in January, the Kremlin sidelined General Surovikin and appointed Chief of the General Staff, General Valery V. Gerasimov, commander supervising the forces in Ukraine. The change marked the beginning of a broader loss of power for Mr. Prigozhin, who soon clashed with General Gerasimov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, where Wagner’s forces suffered heavy losses while trying to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

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These tensions eventually prompted Mr. Prigozhin to launch a short-lived rebellion, which he said was aimed at ousting Russia’s two defense chiefs, not ousting President Vladimir Putin.

As speculation mounted about General Surovikin’s whereabouts in July, a senior lawmaker who heads the Russian parliament’s defense committee told a reporter that the general was “taking a break.”

Mr. Prigozhin was killed on August 23, when a private plane carrying him and other Wagner leaders from Moscow to St. Petersburg crashed in Russia’s Tver region. US officials said they suspected an explosion on board the plane caused the crash.

The Kremlin described Western suggestions that Putin was involved in the event as an “absolute lie.”