Vladimir Putin has ‘fired’ six generals for advancing too slowly in Ukraine, says UK

Vladimir Putin has ‘fired’ six generals for advancing too slowly in Ukraine, says UK

Vladimir Putin has “highly likely” fired six generals for advancing too slowly in his Ukraine war, British defence chiefs said on Friday.

They dismissed as “deliberate misinformation” a claim by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu that the pace of the military campaign had been intentionally eased.

They also stressed that a missile attack on a train on Wednesday in Chaplyne, eastern Ukraine, highighlighted the Russian army’s “willingness to cause collateral damage when it perceives there is military advantage” in undertaking an attack.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “On 24 August 2022, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that Russia was deliberately slowing the pace of its military campaign in Ukraine, driven by the need to reduce civilian casualties.

“This is almost certainly deliberate misinformation. Russia’s offensive has stalled because of poor Russian military performance and fierce Ukrainian resistance. Under Shoigu’s orders, the forces operating in Ukraine have repeatedly missed planned operational timelines.

“It is highly likely that Shoigu and President Putin have fired at least six generals for not advancing quickly enough.”

The briefing added: “On the day Shoigu was speaking, a Russian SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missile struck a train in the town of Chaplyne, reportedly killing at least two children.

“This highlights Russia’s willingness to cause collateral damage when it perceives there is military advantage in launching missile or artillery strikes.”

Russia's ground campaign has stalled in recent months after its troops were repelled from the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of the invasion, but fighting continues along the frontlines to the south and east which are largely at a standstill.

Russian forces control a swathe of territory along Ukraine's Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts, while the conflict has settled into a war of attrition in the eastern Donbas region.

Russia said its forces struck a railway station in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday killing 200 Ukrainian military personnel, confirming an attack which Kyiv said killed 25 civilians as the nation marked its Independence Day.

The Russian Defence Ministry said an Iskander missile hit a military train at Chaplyne station that it claimed was to deliver arms to Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region.

Ukrainian officials said civilians were killed when a house and the station were hit and five train carriages went up in flames.

Moscow denies targeting civilians.

But many of the claims from the Kremlin in the information war fly in the face of numerous reports from the frontline.

British, US and Ukrainian briefings also need to be treated with caution given that they are engaged in an information war with Russia, which they are widely seen to be winning.

The Ukrainian military on Friday said its air force launched strikes on areas of troop and weapon concentration in two different sites.

The report came a day after Russia's defence ministry said Russian forces had destroyed eight Ukrainian warplanes in strikes at air bases in the Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions. That would be one of the heaviest losses for Ukraine's air force in recent weeks.

Ukraine's operational command "South" said its artillery struck ammunition depots and enemy personnel in the Kherson region, while airstrikes were launched against enemy air defences.

In the Donbas region, Russia's TASS news agency reported Ukrainian forces using a US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launcher targeted the town of Stakhanov, with about ten rockets hitting the town before dawn on Friday, according to officials from the pro-Moscow breakaway area of Luhansk.

In its morning roundup of battlefield developments from around the country on Friday, the Ukraine military also said its forces had repulsed Russian assaults on the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.

Kyiv has repeatedly called for more, high-grade Western military hardware it says it needs to repel Russian attacks.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Thursday by phone with US President Joe Biden, who reiterated American support for Ukraine against Russia, the White House said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv on Wednesday in a show of solidarity from the British government, announcing a new weapons package for Ukraine including dozens of micro-drones.

Potentially giving additional credence to Western estimates of heavy Russian losses during the war, Mr Putin signed a decree on Thursday increasing the size of Russia's armed forces to 2.04 million from 1.9 million.

British defence chiefs believe around 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, injured, gone missing or deserted since Mr Putin launched his invasion on February 24.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops have died or been wounded.

Thousands of civilians have also been killed in Russian shelling, air strikes and other attacks, according to reports, including hundreds of children.