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ISW: Russia alters military leadership in Bakhmut as counterattack falters

After ineffective leadership during Ukrainian counterstrikes near the eastern of Bakhmut, the Russian military reportedly removed Lt. Gen. Andrey Sychevoy from his position overseeing operations in the area.
Assessed control of terrain in Bakhmut as of 2 October, 2023. Photo: Screenshot from the ISW report.
ISW: Russia alters military leadership in Bakhmut as counterattack falters

On 1 October, a Russian assault unit instructor claimed the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) removed Lieutenant General Andrey Sychevoy from his command in the Bakhmut direction of eastern Ukraine, ISW reported in its daily updates.

The unnamed instructor speculated that the Russian military high command removed Sychevoy because of his poor leadership in counterattacks against Ukrainian forces south of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Andriivka.

According to the US-based think tank, Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the details on the issues with Sychevoy’s counteroffensive actions were not provided.

Sychevoy’s current formal position within the Russian armed forces is unknown. He previously led Russia’s Western Group of Forces in Kharkiv Oblast until his dismissal in early September 2022.

In its daily report, ISW also mentioned the recent conversation between Russian military blogger Alexander Khodakovsky and late Russian Airborne Forces commander Colonel Andrei Kondrashkin, who led the 31st Guards Airborne Brigade near Bakhmut before he died in mid-September 2023.

According to Khodakovsky, Kondrashkin said his forces suffered heavy losses and had no motivation. However, the Russian command still demanded “decisive action.” Kondrashkin did not voice his concerns, instead blaming failures on poor troop cohesion. Khodakovsky also implies that Ukrainian counterattacks near Bakhmut are degrading Russian defenders.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), citing a pro-Teplinsky Telegram channel, elements of the 7th and 76th Airborne Divisions face similar problems in the Zaporizhzhia direction.

Other key takeaways from the report:

  • Ukrainian forces marginally advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area amid continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and near Bakhmut on October 2.
  • Prominent actors in the Russian information space continue to speculate about the possible future of the Wagner Group under Rosgvardia.
  • Interethnic tensions and claims about the superiority of Chechen “Akhmat” forces over regular Russian forces continue to generate controversy in the Russian information space.
  • The Russian “Vostok” Battalion continued to complain on October 1 that the Russian military command is not fulfilling its promises of having the unit fight as a second-echelon force and is not providing state awards.

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