Purge in Russia : Commander-in-Chief of 58th Army sacked - he could be next victim in campaign against Wagner allies

The commander of the 58th Army of the Russian Federation, Major General Ivan Popov, said he was fired.

Purge in Russia : Commander-in-Chief of 58th Army sacked - he could be next victim in campaign against Wagner allies

The commander of the 58th Army of the Russian Federation, Major General Ivan Popov, said he was fired. The now former commander-in-chief of the army stationed in southern Ukraine announced his dismissal by the military leadership in a voice message on the telegram channel of Duma deputy Andrei Gurulev.

"Good night, my beloved gladiators, my brothers, my family," Popov, who goes by the combat name of Spartacus, opened his speech. "I had to collect my thoughts, a lot has happened in the last two days. "I was removed from my post, Lieutenant General Lyamin arrived and took command. I now await the unfolding of my military destiny, an offer of further service."

"I'll tell you honestly: a difficult situation has arisen with senior superiors. Either I should have remained silent and cowardly said what they wanted to hear, or called everything by its name," Popov explained in his message to the soldiers.

According to him, he made himself unpopular with the army leadership because he clearly stated all the problems of the Russian army. "I have drawn attention to the greatest tragedy of modern warfare: the lack of artillery reconnaissance and countermeasures and the mass casualties and maimings of our brothers at the hands of enemy artillery."

"For this reason, the commanders-in-chief apparently saw some kind of danger in me. They cobbled together an order within a day, the defense minister signed it and they got rid of me," Popov went on to explain the alleged circumstances of his ouster.

For the major general, his dismissal is tantamount to a betrayal of the army. However, he did not openly express this opinion, preferring to put it into the mouths of anonymous officers, who are said to have commented accordingly on his dismissal. "As many divisional commanders said today: the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces could not break through our front, but from behind the Commander-in-Chief dealt us a treacherous blow, beheading the army at the most difficult moment of the greatest tension."

Earlier, the Telegram channel Gray Zone, which is linked to the Wagner troupe, announced the dismissal of Popov. The Major General was dismissed after reporting to the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, and in particular proposing to rotate front-line Russian units. Gerasimov then described Popov as a "scaremonger" and accused him of "disinformation and alarmism". After Popov declared his willingness to personally report to Vladimir Putin on the problems in the army, Gerasimov relieved him of his post and sent him to the immediate front.

However, his criticism of the warfare that allegedly led to Popov's sacking sounds suspicious of what Yevgeny Prigozhin said recently, justifying his march on Moscow. The revolt of the Wagner troops was officially directed against Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Gerasimov, whom Prigozhin accused of corruption and incompetence.

The fact that a Telegram channel that is close to Wagner's troops explains Popov's dismissal with his supposed commitment to ordinary soldiers clearly shows the Prigozhin line. In the last few weeks before his uprising, he had tried to set himself up as the protector of Russian soldiers - instead he accused the army leadership of abandoning the troops.

The fact that Popov had his message spread by Duma deputy Andrei Gurulev, of all people, also speaks volumes. The deputy of the ruling party "United Russia" is loyal to Vladimir Putin. In 2014, the head of the Kremlin personally promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general. By his own account, Gurulev was involved in directing and coordinating the operations of the Wagner squad in 2014.

Apparently, Popov maintains connections to the Wagner troupe, which now suggests that this connection is precisely the reason for his dismissal.

The death of Lieutenant General Oleg Tsokov had already sparked speculation. Tsokov died last Tuesday when a rocket hit the Dune hotel in Berdyansk. The command headquarters of the 58th Army is said to have been located there. Several Telegram channels then reported that Tsokov's death was an accident and that Popov was the real target - allegedly in this way the command of the Russian armed forces gets rid of unwanted people. Tsokow was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time".