Russian General Gerasimov, who is close to Putin and at the forefront of the war in Ukraine, has not been seen since a Ukrainian attack on a base in Crimea. The Kremlin doesn't communicate.
Published: January 24, 2024 at 2:12 p.m. Reading time: 2 minutes
Where did Valery Gerasimov go? The question is becoming increasingly important. It's been almost a month since the man was seen in public. It's not just anyone: Valeri Guerassimov, 68, is chief of staff of the Russian army. As such, this general belongs to Vladimir Putin's very inner circle and is one of the three people required to deploy the Russian nuclear briefcase, along with the Russian President and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
President Vladimir Putin and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov at the Russian army headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on October 19, 2023. -AFP
After the defeats suffered by the Russian army since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Valery Gerasimov personally took over the leadership of the offensive in January 2023. He “built the army. He has been preparing Russia for this war (in Ukraine) for ten years. Now he has to prove that he didn't do it in vain,” a Russian analyst told AFP on condition of anonymity, stressing that the general was a real professional soldier, unlike Mr Shoigu, who comes from a civilian background .
A command post destroyed on January 4th
The chief of staff often appeared alongside Vladimir Putin at military meetings or on visits behind the front lines. But Valeri Guerassimov has not appeared since December 29, 2023. On January 4, 2024, the Ukrainian army announced that it had attacked a Russian “command post” near the occupied city of Sevastopol and a military base, both in Crimea. No results were reported. The man has already been missing from the media for several days and could appear again tomorrow, the general has never been there for so long.
On January 4, 2024, the Ukrainian army announced that it had attacked “a command post” in Sevastopol, killing dozens of officers. -AFP
According to the New York Times, the Ukrainians have already tried to assassinate the general. At the end of April 2022, two months after the start of the war, Valery Gerasimov traveled to Donbass. A trip that was observed by the American secret services and kept secret from their Ukrainian colleagues so as not to risk escalation. But Kiev found out about this visit and a strike was ordered against the building. This would have resulted in 200 deaths in the Russian ranks, but Valeri Guerassimov had already left.
Since February 2022, Ukraine has been working to decapitate the Russian army's cadres. At the end of September 2023, an attack on the Russian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol resulted in the deaths of around thirty “commanders in chief,” including, according to Kiev, Admiral Viktor Sokolov. Moscow never confirmed it, but the commander of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea was never seen moving again…