Is he hiding? Where is Putin’s commander-in-chief, Alexander Dvornikov?

Morale problems among Russian troops were reported early in the invasion of Ukraine. Now there is apparently also the offensive in the east. Putin’s most important man in the war is said to have gone into hiding.

Russian troops in eastern Ukraine appear to be suffering from the same problems as their failed first push when Moscow tried to take the entire country. This is reported by the “New York Times”, citing high-ranking American officials.

The Pentagon had already observed declining morale and logistical problems among Russian soldiers in the first weeks of the war. According to the report that has now been published, even the new Russian supreme commander in Ukraine has been missing for two weeks.

President Vladimir Putin only sent Aleksander Dvornikov to Ukraine in April. The general is known for his gruesome action in Aleppo, Syria. Many observers took Putin’s personnel change in Ukraine as an admission that the original Russian war plan had failed.

Before Dvornikov’s arrival, the individual Russian units had fought in the country without a common command. According to military experts, poor coordination within the invading army was an important reason for its lack of success. Dwornikov, who already commanded the troops in southern Ukraine, was supposed to remedy this.

Shortly after his arrival, Dwornikov tried to better coordinate the attacks by air and land units, the New York Times reports. But according to US officials, he has not been seen for two weeks. There is therefore speculation as to whether he will continue to be responsible for the leadership of the Russian troops.

“Stupid” pace of the Russian troops

The report goes on to say: As in the first weeks of the war, Russian pilots in eastern Ukraine were averse to taking risks. “They fly over the border to launch attacks and then quickly return to Russian territory instead of staying in Ukrainian airspace to deny their opponents access. The result is that Russia has still not achieved air sovereignty,” he said a source quoted in The New York Times.

A Pentagon official said the Russian military’s “sluggish and gradual” pace has worn soldiers down and reduced the military’s overall combat capability by about 20 percent. Since the beginning of the war, Russia has lost 1,000 tanks.

Despite this, Ukraine has also suffered major setbacks. Because the Russian troops have now conquered several areas in the east of the country, many soldiers and civilians have died. This week, Russian troops advanced toward the center of Sieverodonetsk, a city that has become a central theater of fighting in the east of the country.

According to Kyiv, the Russians already have 20 percent of Ukraine under their control. The situation in the east of the country is becoming increasingly difficult: “We are losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyj. However, for days there have also been reports of a counter-offensive by the Ukrainians in the south near Cherson: the Ukrainian army is said to be beating back Russian troops there.

Even after the first weeks of the war, there were repeated reports of logistical and moral problems among the Russian troops. According to Western intelligence information, high-ranking officers were sent to the front in order to better control the troops.

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