Speculation is swirling that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sacked his top commander in what is the latest rumored dismissal amid his floundering invasion into Ukraine, said an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a presidential adviser, said in an interview with Russian dissident lawyer Mark Feygin on Wednesday that “preliminary information” indicated that Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, had been fired.
The reported sacking could not be independently verified, and the Kremlin has not given any indications of an upper-echelon ouster.
However Gerasimov — who was famously seen briefing Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu from the other end of a long table during the lead-up to the war — was notably absent from this week’s Victory Day parade in Moscow.
Gerasimov is widely seen as one of the architects of the Kremlin’s Ukraine strategy.
The rumors come after reports over the past month that other leaders of the failed invasion have also been sidelined, including the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Osipov.
Several Russian Army commanders are also rumored to have been dismissed including Lieutenant General Vladislav Ershov, Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel, and Major General Arkady Marzoev.
Meanwhile, while Arestovych said Putin may be cleaning house, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, said the opposite may be true.
In an interview with Sky News Friday, Budanov suggested that an insider coup against Putin was already underway.
The Ukrainian general said he anticipates the war would be over by year’s end.
“The breaking point will be in the second part of August. Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year,” he predicted.