After repeated setbacks, Russia appoints new general to lead Ukraine invasion
After continuous setbacks to its military forces in Ukraine, Russia has appointed a new general to lead the offensive in the country. The Russian defence ministry said General Sergey Surovikin had been appointed as the "commander of the Joint Grouping of Forces in the areas of the special military operation", using the Kremlin's term for the offensive.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. After sustained territorial gains in first few months of the conflict, Russian forces have had to retreat in the face of Ukrainian counteroffensive.
According to the ministry's website, Surovikin, 55, born in Siberia's Novosibirsk, has combat experience in the 1990s conflicts in Tajikistan and Chechnya and, more recently, in Syria, where Moscow intervened in 2015 on the side of Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Until now Surovikin led the "South" forces in Ukraine, according to a defence ministry report in July.
The name of his predecessor has never been officially revealed, but some Russian media said it was General Alexander Dvornikov -- also a general of the Second Chechen War and Russian commander in Syria.
Russian setbacks in Ukraine have led to growing criticism of senior leadership. The criticism has also come from the elite members in Russian political and military spheres.
Russian troops were forced out of much of northeastern Kharkiv region in early September. Ukrainian forces captured thousands of square kilometres of its territory.
Russian troops also lost territory in the southern Kherson region as well as the Lyman transport hub in eastern Ukraine.
The setbacks led to growing criticism of the military leadership, including from the elite.