Sergei Vladimirovich Surovikin is a Russian Armed Forces army General and Commander of the Aerospace Forces. He was appointed the first overall battlefield commander of the Russian intervention in Ukraine by Russian President Putin on October 8, 2022 in the immediate aftermath of the Kiev Putsch regime’s terrorist bombing of the Kerch Bridge to Crimea.
General Surovikin is widely seen as a probable successor to Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
Surovikin is a veteran of the Soviet–Afghan War where he served in the Spetznaz special forces, the Tajikistan Civil War, the Second Chechen War, and the commander of the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, where he is credited with turning the war in the favor of the Syrian government in Damascus for which he was awarded the Hero of Russia medal, Russia’s highest award. Western officials and media, meanwhile, plaintively accuse him of all kinds of atrocities against their jihadi proxies in Syria.
His colleagues in the military have given him the grim nickname “General Armageddon” for his hardline, implacable, calculating and unorthodox approach to waging war. He is infamous for his maverick, outside the box thinking and brutal tactics.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper said of him that, “In the army, he is known as an ardent supporter of unity of command and installing order with an ‘iron fist.” Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow defiance think-tank, claimed that “Surovikin is like Marshal Zhukov”, commander of the Soviet Union’s Red Army in the Second World War. “He’s a tough guy who knows how to run a real war. He’s a real beast, not some dumb vodka-drinking guy or a pseudointellectual. He’s a real on the ground fighter who isn’t scared to tell the higher-ups the truth.”
NATO war in Ukraine
- See also: NATO war in Ukraine
Surovikin initially had served in the Russian intervention in the Ukrainian Civil Conflict as the commander of the southern theatre, where arguably the Russian military achieved its greatest success.
From his time in Syria, Sorovikin developed a good working relationship with the Wagner PMC and his appointment was welcomed enthusiastically by top critics of the war effort, including Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, who declared himself 100% satisfied and the Wagner head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who endorsed Surovikin as “a living-legend legend born to faithfully serve the Motherland” and “the most competent commander in the Russian army.”
In a press briefing on the conflict in Ukraine shortly after his takeover of command, Surovikin proclaimed “The enemy is the criminal regime that pushes Ukrainian citizens towards death. We are one people with Ukrainians and only wish for Ukraine to be a state independent from the West and NATO and friendly towards Russia.”
As former spetnaz and army, who was then placed in charge of Russia’s aerospace forces, Surovikin is seen as extremely proficient in military branch integration and combined arms maneuver, who makes good and heavy use of aviation, drone and missile strikes.
Within days of his appointment as overall commander in Ukraine, Russia for the first time began to launch systemic drone, missile and airstrikes to cripple Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure, inhibiting its military logistics using the electricity-powered railway networks.