The commander of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army, Ivan Popov, declared that he was removed from his post after reporting to command the “major tragedy of modern warfare” and criticizing the decisions of the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The speech was reported after the leak of an audio message.
Last Wednesday (12), Popov’s appeal, which was probably originally intended only for colleagues, was published by State Duma deputy Andrei Gurulev, who also commanded the 58th Army in the past.
“Honestly, I’m telling you, a difficult situation arose with the higher authorities, with which you had to remain silent and cowards and say what you wanted to hear, or call things by their names,” Popov says in the appeal.
According to Popov, he “tightly” outlined all the problematic issues of the Russian army “in combat work, in support.” “I drew attention to the most important tragedy of modern warfare: the absence of counter-battery combat, the absence of artillery reconnaissance stations and the mass deaths and injuries of our brothers by enemy artillery,” said the former commander.
“In this regard, the higher commanders, apparently, felt some kind of danger in me and quickly, on a clear day, invented an order, the Minister of Defense signed the order and got rid of me,” the message adds.
The replacement of the commander took place during the ongoing counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Zaporozhye region in the direction of Tokmak, where the 58th Army forms the base of the defending Russian troops.
On the eve of publication of Major General Popov’s appeal, Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov, Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District, died as a result of a missile strike. He became the highest-ranking Russian soldier to die in a combat zone since the conflict began.
The Kremlin, for its part, declined to comment on the situation with 58th Army Commander Ivan Popov.
“We do not comment. Still, we are talking about the military, the Ministry of Defense, so we recommend that you contact them for comments. We do not believe that this is an issue on our agenda,” said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked by journalists whether Vladimir Putin was aware of the situation with Popov.
Where is Surovikin?
Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the commander of the Aerospace Forces and deputy chief of staff of the Russian army, Serguei Surovikin, who has not appeared in public since the Wagner group mutiny on June 24, remain unknown.
Previously, it was published by the Verstka portal that Surovikin was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on suspicion of involvement in organizing the rebellion, but no charges have yet been brought against him. The Financial Times also reported on the general’s alleged detention, and the Bloomberg agency reported that he was questioned for several days about his ties to Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Last Wednesday (12), the head of the Defense Committee of the Duma, Andrei Kartapolov, said that Surovikin “is resting” and is “unavailable”.
Editing: Thales Schmidt