Russia's military leadership appears to be increasingly delegating responsibilities for different sectors of the front in Ukraine to various Russian commanders while the power of the theater commander continues to wane, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update.
Analyzing the current frontline situation, ISW said that Army General Valery Gerasimov’s abilities to control his commanders has degraded and will likely "further limit the Russian military’s ability to conduct coherent operations" involving different areas of responsibility.
ISW has previously assessed that the increasing erosion of the Russian chain of command is likely caught in a self-reinforcing feedback loop with the Russian military’s growing factionalism.
ISW assesses that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to remove Gerasimov as overall theater commander for reputational reasons, and therefore Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s public undermining of Gerasimov may have lasting impacts on the power of the overall theater commander’s position.
Putin may seek to reward commanders he favors with responsibility beyond their official positions instead of outright appointing them to a higher position.
"The Russian military is highly unlikely to solve these chain of command issues in the near term, and these problems will likely influence how Russian forces on different axes respond to potential Ukrainian counteroffensive operations," the ISW concluded.