published : 2023-08-25
Notorious 'General Armageddon' Dismissed: A Clever Ploy by Putin, Analysts Warn
Last public appearance of Gen. Sergei Surovikin was in June, urging Prigozhin to cease military advancements on Moscow
The global stage was recently jolted by the report from a state-controlled Russian news agency that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a figure of significant interest, perished in a private plane accident that also claimed nine others. The absence, and announced dismissal, of Russia's prominent 'General Armageddon' – real name Gen. Sergei Surovikin – has thrown analysts into fervent speculation. The Air Force commander, known for his skill and military prowess, vanished from public view for an extended period, adding fuel to the rumors.
However, military intelligence analyst Rebekah Koffler cautioned that the account of Surovikin's dismissal is possibly planted by the Kremlin as a deliberate disinformation operation. The news spread like wildfire across controlled Russian media, triggering suspicion among seasoned observers. Sudden reports of Surovikin's dismissal were further bewildering as they surfaced from an 'informed but unnamed' source via the RIA news agency and were soon mirrored by the RBC, causing a whirlwind of chatter among U.S media circles.
Koffler identified this as a 'hallmark of Russian tradecraft' known as 'information confrontation.' This method is utilized to confuse and distract adversaries, diverting their focus particularly from primary Russian objectives such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The success of such tactics, according to Koffler, lies in their ability to incite a flurry of queries and discussions, thereby diverting attention from critical aspects such as Russian warfighting doctrine or plans.
On the other hand, Robert Peters from the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, posits a different theory for this unfolding drama. Echoing other experts' suspicions, he suggests the recent alleged dismissal of Surovikin may be an intentional move by the Kremlin to communicate a stern message to its military commanders and the general public - particularly in light of Prigozhin's sudden, questionable death, which many believe was a concealed act by the Kremlin.
Surovikin, formerly one of Russia's most esteemed officers, was last seen in public back in June, during the Wagner Group's revolt, urging its leader Prigozhin to cease their aggressive push towards Moscow. This abrupt disappearance and rumors of dismissal could signify an unexpected shift in Russia's war efforts in Ukraine, striking a blow to Putin's plans. However, Peters argues that Surovikin's dismissal might be a prolonged fallout with Putin, pointing to some unfulfilled objectives during his oversight of the war in Ukraine.
While Koffler cautions that this entire narrative could be a 'duck' distraction from the Kremlin, she also suggests a potential return of Surovikin in future due to his prior close relations with Putin. She indicated that it's plausible the General could be reassigned a new role and might soon reemerge on the scene, possibly in Ukraine, adding a new dimension to Putin's war strategy.