Why did Shoigu replace General 'Armageddon' Surovikin with Gerasimov?

On January 11, 2023, Army General Valery Gerasimov was appointed Commander of the Russian grouping of troops in the zone of the special military operation in Ukraine. Gerasimov thus replaced General Sergei Surovikin, who became his deputy.

Gerasimov has an extensive experience of army service. He fought Chechen militants at the head of the army, organised Russia's special operation in Syria, and chaired the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces in November 2012.

Valery Gerasimov was born on September 8, 1955 in Kazan, into a working class family. In 1977 he graduated from the Kazan Higher Tank Command School named after the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (currently the Kazan Higher Tank Command Red Banner School). In 1987, he graduated with honours from the Military Academy of Armoured Forces named after Marshal of the Soviet Union Malinovsky. In 1997 — from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

Until 1987, Gerasimov commanded a platoon, a company, a battalion in Poland and in the Far Eastern Military District. Afterwards, he chaired the headquarters and commanded a tank regiment in the Baltic Military District. In 1993-1995, Gerasimov commanded a motorised rifle division in the Northwestern Group of Forces.

From 1997, he served as First Deputy Commander of the 1st Guards Tank Army in the Moscow Military District (Smolensk), and then, from 1998 to 2003, he served as Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff and Commander of the 58th Army in the North Caucasus Military District. The whole district used to be one big hotspot.

Service in the Caucasus

According to his colleagues, Gerasimov demonstrated a non-standard approach to military planning in the Caucasus. For example, his fighters could capture the Chechen village of Maly Bamut without a fight at all, which came as a complete surprise to the militants.

When serving in hotspots, Gerasimov never allowed grass green soldiers to be sent into battle. It was especially important for him to avoid losses. He saw no trifles in planning all military operations that he was in charge of.

After the Caucasus, Gerasimov served as Chief of Staff of the Far Eastern Military District (Khabarovsk) from March 2003 to April 2005. Since 2005, he became the head of the Main Directorate for Combat Training and Service of the Troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation; in December 2006 he headed the headquarters of the North Caucasian Military District.

Chief of the General Staff

From December 11, 2007 to February 5, 2009, Gerasimov commanded the troops of the Leningrad Military District (St. Petersburg), and from February 5, 2009 to December 23, 2010, the troops of the Moscow Military District. From December 23, 2010 to April 26, 2012 Gerasimov served as Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

In 2009-2012, he commanded Red Square parades in honour of Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War. April 26, 2012 Gerasimov became Commander of the troops of the Central Military District. However, he held the post until November 9 of the same year.

That day, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to appoint Gerasimov as Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (he replaced Nikolai Makarov in this position). Three days earlier, on November 6, 2012, Sergei Shoigu headed the Russian Defence Ministry.

On November 13, 2012 Valery Gerasimov became a member of the Security Council of Russia. In 2013, he received the Army General rank. This is where a big gap began in his official biography. According to media reports, the next big step in Gerasimov's career was a large-scale operation to ensure the security of the 2014 Crimea referendum.

Russia's special military operation in Syria in 2015 became Valery Gerasimov's next successful achievement. It was Russia's first special operation in a remote theater of operations in post-Soviet history.

In 2016, Valery Gerasimov received the highest state award — the title of Hero of Russia. Sources of the Kommersant publication claimed that he received the highest state award for organising the operation in Syria.

In addition to her, Valery Gerasimov was awarded Orders of St. George of 3rd and 4th degrees, the Order of Merit for the Fatherland (1st degree), as well as orders of 3rd degree with swords and 4th degree with swords.

The reasons behind the decision to appoint Valery Gerasimov as the Commander of the joint grouping of troops in the zone of the special military operation remain a mystery.

Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov
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Editor Dmitry Sudakov
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