Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have taken the gloves off with his neighbor in the wake of recent battlefield gains by Ukrainian forces coupled with the October 8 bombing of a bridge connecting Russia to Crimea. A perfect case is his appointment of a new commander, hailed by many as “General Armageddon.”
On October 8, Putin appointed Army General Sergei Surovikin to command the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Surovikin’s reputation proceeds him, earning him the moniker “General Armageddon” for his unorthodox and often brutal approach to waging war.
The Russian general first rose to prominence when he tangled with pro-democracy protesters during an attempted coup d’état against former President Mikhail Gorbachev, the final head of the Soviet Union. Three individuals lost their lives when he led a rifle division through barriers erected by rebels.
Gen. Surovikin’s military background includes several command positions, including one in Chechnya and another leading military forces deployed in Syria. He also created Russia’s Military Police and currently serves as the Commander of Russia’s Aerospace Forces.
Surovikin unleashed Russia’s largest barrage of airstrikes in Ukraine since the conflict began in February. Charles Lister, a counterterrorism expert and senior fellow of the Middle East Institute’s extremism programs, told Radio Free Europe that Ukraine should take note of Surovikin’s “absolutely unforgiving attitude” toward both civilians and combatants “and his laser-like focus” on military success regardless of the accompanying “cost or risk.”