Russia’s new commander in Ukraine launches ‘farcical’ crackdown on troops’ shaving standards

Russia’s new commander in Ukraine launches ‘farcical’ crackdown on troops’ shaving standards

Russia's new commander in Ukraine has launched a “farcical” crackdown on troops’ shaving standards, British intelligence chiefs believe.

General Valery Gerasimov has started a campaign to improve day-to-day discipline in Vladimir Putin's army, the Ministry of Defence said on Monday.

But the move has been met with “sceptical feedback” after reportedly including a clampdown on "non-standard haircuts", uniform and shaving practices.

It comes at a time when Russian forces continue to experience heavy casualties and setbacks on the battlefield.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of private army the Wagner group, criticised the military leadership, saying “war is the time of the active and courageous, and not of the clean-shaven”.

In its morning briefing, the MoD said: “General Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff and newly appointed commander in Ukraine, has likely started his tour with a drive to improve deployed troops’ day-to-day discipline.

“Since he took command, officers have been attempting to clamp down on non-regulation uniform, travel in civilian vehicles, the use of mobile phones and non-standard haircuts.

He is increasingly seen as out of touch and focused on presentation over substance

Yevgeny Prigozhin

“The measures have been met with sceptical feedback. However, some of the greatest derision has been reserved for attempts to improve the standard of troops’ shaving.

“Officials in the Donetsk People’s Republic described the prioritisation a ‘farce’ that would ‘hamper the process of destroying the enemy’.

“The Russian force continues to endure operational deadlock and heavy casualties; Gerasimov’s prioritisation of largely minor regulations is likely to confirm the fears of his many sceptics in Russia.

“Along with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, he is increasingly seen as out of touch and focused on presentation over substance.”

It comes as the Moscow-installed official in the occupied parts of the Donetsk region reportedly visited the town of Soledar, which Russia claimed to have captured earlier this month.

Denis Pushilin posted a video on social media which appeared to show him among destroyed buildings in the eastern Ukraine town.

Wagner claimed it had captured the strategically important salt-mining town of Soledar last week.

Ukraine has never publicly confirmed whether it has been captured by Russian forces.