Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu appointed General Valeriy Gerasimov a commander of the country’s Joint Group of Forces in Ukraine, Russian state-controlled media outlet RBC reported on Jan. 11.
Gerasimov, who retains his title as Chief the Russian General Staff, replaced General Sergei Surovikin in the post. Surovikin has become his deputy, according to the report.
Russia’s defense ministry cited “an expansion of the scale of the tasks being solved” and “the need to organize closer interaction between the branches of troops” as the reasons for the change in leadership.
On the previous day, CNN reported citing U.S. and Ukrainian officials that Russia reduced the intensity of artillery shelling in Ukraine, in some places, by 75%, saying that it could be due to low artillery rounds supply or a change in tactics amid Ukrainian counteroffensives.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian officials stepped up their rhetoric on the prospects of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Ukraine was planning a major counteroffensive in spring, while Zelensky said in late December that “Ukraine is on track to victory that all generations have dreamed of.”