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ISW: Russian officers reportedly contact former general amid deteriorating conditions on front line

by Olena Goncharova September 3, 2023 5:45 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian sapper inspects the shoreline during the demining of a Dnipro river in Zaporizhzhia on Aug. 3, 2023. (Photo by Andriy Andriyenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Officers from the Russia's 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast have reportedly reached out to their former commander, Major General Ivan Popov, the Institute for the Study of War said in their latest update. This development comes as the situation on the Russian front line continues to deteriorate.

Russian military bloggers have claimed that Major General Popov has maintained communication with his former subordinates in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. According to their sources, these officers turned to Popov for assistance instead of relying on their new commander. This move appears to reflect a lack of trust or confidence in their current leadership.

Popov was dismissed from his position as the commander of the 58th CAA (Southern Military District) in early July. His removal came after he engaged in clear insubordination by attempting to bypass Chief of the Russian General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, and directly raise concerns with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Popov's grievances included issues related to poor counterbattery capabilities, heavy losses, and a lack of troop rotations, according to ISW.

Popov's actions seemed to set a precedent for insubordination within the Russian military ranks, prompting reports of the removal of other similarly defiant commanders from front-line units, although not all of these reports were confirmed.

"Popov’s contact with his former subordinates, if true, suggests that Popov’s replacement has not won the trust of his subordinates either because he is less competent or because he is less forthright with senior Russian leadership about continuing challenges facing the Russian defense in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast," ISW concluded.

Military: Ukraine has breached Russia’s first line of defense near Zaporizhzhia
Ukrainian forces have achieved a significant breakthrough by successfully breaching Russia’s initial defensive line near Zaporizhzhia, General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, the commander of Ukraine’s military fighting in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, said in an interview with the Guardian.
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