On Saturday, Russia appointed Sergei Surovikin as the new commander of the war in Ukraine, he has been described by the British Ministry of Defence as “brutal and corrupt.”
Surovikin ordered that soldiers shoot protesters in Moscow in the nineties. He has also been accused of leading an offensive on Syria six years ago as part of the Russian backed intervention on the side of Bashar Al-Assad’s government.
Surovikin oversaw the bombardment of Aleppo in 2016, when Syrian government forces retook the city. This became known as the most brutal, intense battles in the Syrian war.
Government air strikes backed by Russia on Syria’s second largest city killed over 440 civilians including 90 children.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least one medical facility was targeted and indiscriminate weapons including cluster munitions and incendiary weapons were used.
At the time Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the aerial bombardment of Aleppo.
Last week, Russia and Syria escalated artillery and missile shelling against villages in the countryside of Idlib.
Russia appointed Surovikin after two commanders of Russia’s military regions were sacked after they lost territory in northeast and south Ukraine over the past several weeks.
At the beginning of September Russian forces were pushed out of the Kharkiv region and the Kherson region.
Back home, Russian hardliners who have been accusing military commanders of incompetence have welcomed the appointment of Surovikin.
They have been calling for retaliation against Ukraine after the loss of territory.
One day after he was appointed Russia hit downtown Kyiv for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, destroying cars and buildings.
One missile struck a major intersection during rush hour close to the government quarters, another a children’s playground.