Putin fires General 'Armageddon'

Putin fires General ‘Armageddon’ two months after he vanished from view and was believed to have been arrested over his knowledge of failed Wagner coup

  • The notoriously ruthless commander, 56, vanished from view two months ago
  • He was replaced as head of Russia’s aerospace forces by Col-Gen Viktor Afzalov

Vladimir Putin has fired General Sergei ‘Armageddon’ Surovikin as head of his aerospace forces, Russia media confirmed today. 

The notoriously ruthless commander, 56, vanished from view two months ago and is believed to have been placed under arrest following a coup led by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The Kremlin said that Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov, 55, who dozed off to sleep during a Putin speech about the war, has replaced Surovikin on an ‘interim’ basis.

Surovikin – seen as one of Russia’s most capable – and cruel – generals – is assumed to have also lost his other role as deputy to armed forces chief General Valery Gerasimov – Putin’s overall war commander.

The demise of Surovikin is seen as a victory for Gerasimov and defence minister Sergei Shoigu in a poisonous power struggle inside Putin’s high command.

Some reports hint that Surovikin will be demoted to a new job but there are also claims that his family has not seen him since he disappeared from view at the time of the coup against the Putin regime, and that he remains under legal sanction.

General Sergei Surovikin with Vladimir Putin

The notoriously ruthless commander, 56, vanished from view two months ago after condemning the Wagner group’s mutiny against the Ministry of Defence

General Surovikin and his wife Anna are seen drinking at a New Year party in 2022

One source said: ‘Surovikin was relieved of his post in connection with a transfer to another job and is at the disposal of the Ministry of Defence.’

Explosion hits Moscow skyscraper in kamikaze drone attack on Russian capital’s elite financial and government zone 

Another said he was on a ‘short vacation’.

During the Wagner mutiny against the Ministry of Defence in June, father-of-four Surovikin was summoned back from the war zone to Moscow.

He issued a video calling on the Wagner mutineers to lay down their arms and halt a march on Moscow – this later proved to be the last time he was seen.

But some Putin loyalists believed he had prior knowledge of the putsch bid, or was even colluding with Wagner chief Prigozhin.

Reports followed that he had been locked away for interrogation in Lefortovo jail, or a secret military prison.

He is believed to have been interrogated by a commission appointed by Shoigu, but a veil of secrecy was thrown over his status and no information on his whereabouts was provided by the Kremlin.

Surovikin was notorious for his brutality in Syria and Chechnya where he earned the moniker ‘General Armageddon’.

He was briefly in charge of the Russian war campaign in Ukraine from October until Putin removed responsibility from him in January, handing it to Gerasimov.

During his tenure, he was accused of ‘genocidal’ attacks on Ukrainian power stations.

Yet he was also credited with ordering the defence lines that have blocked progress for Kyiv in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

He has also faced claims of corruption over a £3 million ‘English-style mansion’ he shares with wife Anna.

Col-Gen Viktor Afzalov, 55, (first from the left) has replaced General Sergei Surovikin

Top Russian military and security chiefs at a meeting with Vladimir Putin in December 2022. Col-Gen Afzalov (marked) is seen with his eyes closed, first from the right in the third row

The moment of 23 August 2023 drone strike at one of Moscow City’s skyscrapers

Dramatic video shows the moment the blast ripped through the new One Tower, which is under construction in the prestigious business and government zone of Moscow City around three miles from the Kremlin

Now, Surovikin’s former deputy Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov is in the hot seat.

The British defence ministry said in a recent update that Afzalov was likely under ‘intense pressure’ to ‘improve air defences over western Russia’.

Afzalov’s promotion comes as Ukraine continues to taunt the Russian aerospace forces with increasing kamikaze drone strikes on Moscow.

The latest targeted another skyscraper in the business district of the capital in the early hours of this morning.

Security camera footage caught the moment a drone slammed into the side of a skyscraper and erupted in a yellow ball of flame. 

The increasing drone strikes pose a problem for Putin who had assumed in invading Ukraine that ‘it would have little direct effect on Russians’.

Russia said it had prevented most of the Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow early this morning, shooting down two and jamming a third which ultimately slammed into the skyscraper. 

The attempted attack in Moscow was not reported to have hurt anyone and only appeared to have caused minor damage.

The state TASS news agency reported that glass planes on three floors of the high-rise building had been damaged. 

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which rarely takes direct responsibility for drone strikes on Russian territory or on areas controlled by Russia, but which appears to have stepped up such attacks since two drones were destroyed over the Kremlin in early May. 

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