Russia Appoints New Ukraine War Commander

WASHINGTON — After its striking post-invasion setbacks, Russia has appointed a new Ukraine war commander, a U.S. official said Sunday.

Russia has turned to Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, 60, one of Russia’s most experienced military officers and — according to U.S. officials — a general with a record of brutality against civilians in Syria and other war theaters. A senior official identified the new commander but was not allowed to identify him and spoke under anonymity.

But the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said “no appointment of any general can erase the fact that Russia has already faced a strategic failure in Ukraine.”

“This general will just be another author of crimes and brutality against Ukrainian civilians,” Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And the United States, as I said before, is determined to do all that we can to support Ukrainians as they resist him and they resist the forces that he commands.”

Russia is gearing up to make a larger and more targeted push in order to increase its control over the Donbas. This decision follows an unsuccessful attempt to take back Kyiv.

Dvornikov gained prominence while leading the Russian group of forces in Syria, where Moscow has waged a military campaign since 2015 to shore up President Bashar Assad’s regime during a devastating civil war.

Dvornikov has been a professional military officer since 1982, when he was a platoon commander. After serving in the war in Chechnya in 1982, he rose to several senior positions and was eventually appointed as the commander of Russian forces in Syria.

In 2016, Putin awarded Dvornikov the Hero of Russia medal, one of the country’s highest awards. Dvornikov is the Southern Military District’s commander since 2016.

Sullivan described the general as having a record of brutality against civilians in Syria and said “we can expect more of the same in this theater.” But he stressed that the U.S. strategy remains the same in providing Ukraine the military and logistical support it needs.

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