Major-General Ivan Popov, commander of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army, criticised strategy on Ukraine, reports say.
Moscow’s military leadership has reportedly dismissed Major-General Ivan Popov, commander-in-chief of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army stationed in southern Ukraine, over his concerns for troops fighting without rest and criticism of Russian battlefield strategy.
Popov addressed soldiers in a voice message that was circulated on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday, saying he had been relieved of his post for criticising Russia’s military inefficiencies in Ukraine.
“I drew attention to the greatest tragedy of modern war – the lack of artillery reconnaissance and counterstrikes and the multiple deaths and injuries caused by enemy artillery,” Popov said, according to the message circulated on the Telegram channel of Duma legislator Andrei Gurulyov.
Popov, whose unit was fighting in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia, was harshly critical of his superiors.
“The soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces could not break through our front, but from behind the commander-in-chief dealt us a treacherous blow by decapitating the army at the most critical and tense moment,” Popov said in his message.
Russian media outlet RBC reported that Popov said he had to choose between staying silent or speaking out about conditions on the battlefield.
“I have always been honest, from the first day I arrived in our army. Therefore, I honestly tell you: a difficult situation arose with the senior authorities, when it was necessary either to remain silent and cowardly and say what they wanted to hear, or to call a spade a spade. And in the name of you, in the name of all our military friends who died, I had no right to lie, so I outlined all the problematic issues that exist today in the army,” RBC quoted Popov as saying, according to a translation.
Among the issues raised by Popov were Russia’s ineffective targeting of Ukraine’s heavy weaponry and the “mass death and injury of our brothers from enemy artillery”, according to RBC.