Russia ‘promoting commander involved in failed Kyiv offensive’, says UK


Russia is believed to be promoting a general who was involved in the failed offensive on Kyiv to its western command, UK defence chiefs have said.

In its latest situation update on Friday, the Ministry of Defence said that lieutenant general Yevgeniy Nikiforov is likely to be in the process of taking over the Western Group of Forces (WGF).

The WGF has been tasked with holding Russia’s right flank against a renewed Ukrainian offensive, and once Nikiforov takes over, he will be the fourth commander of the formation since the invasion began, the MoD said.

“As the Chief of Staff of Russia’s Eastern Group of Forces (EGF) during the early weeks of the invasion, Nikiforov would have been heavily involved in planning the disastrous attempt by EGF and airborne forces to advance on Kyiv from the north-west, via the Chernobyl area,” the MoD said.

“The continued churn of senior Russian officers probably reflects internal divisions regarding the Russian Ministry of Defence’s future conduct of the war.”

The Russian offensive has suffered multiple setbacks in recent months and has shifted to targeting key Ukrainian infrastructure with missile strikes.

Overnight, there were reports that Russia had launched 16 Iranian-made kamikaze drones, officials said on Telegram.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials reported over 120 missile strikes across the country in the early hours of the morning.

Within Russia’s own border, however, the MoD said on Thursday that it was “increasingly clear” that Moscow was struggling to contain Ukrainian air attacks despite it giving “high priority” to maintaining its ground based air defences.

Russia said on Monday that it had shot down a Ukrainian drone close to its Engels air base, where long-range strategic bombers that may have been used to target Ukrainian cities and infrastructure are based.

Ukraine has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack on the base in Saratov, which lies around 450 miles southeast of Moscow.

The MoD said: “Russia has long given a very high priority to maintaining advanced ground based air defences, but it is increasingly clear that it is struggling to counter air threats deep inside Russia.”