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Has Dvornikov been purged?

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Putin reportedly removed Alexander Dvornikov, the “butcher of Syria” he put at the forefront of the war in Ukraine

In early April, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Alexander Dvornikov, head of the country’s Southern Military District, as the sole commander of Russian forces in Ukraine. Known as the “butcher of Syria,” he led the Russian involvement in the Asian country for nearly a year after it began in 2015.

Under his command, the Russian military and mercenaries used the most inhumane methods and violent tactics to help troops of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad capture several hundred towns and villages from anti-government rebels, including Palmyra.

His appointment coincided with the Russian withdrawal in eastern Ukraine, where they would focus after the defeats in the center of the country, the impossibility of taking the capital, Kyiv, and the intensive Ukrainian resistance, supported by the armament sent by the West. It was assumed that the “special operation” would work better if it was led by a single command, even if it meant resorting to the most savage bombardments to subdue the Ukrainians.

Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited Dvornikov’s record in Syria, including an air campaign that pounded the rebel-held cities of Aleppo and Homs, killing thousands of civilians in the process, when she said, “We expect it to be a continuation of the kind of atrocities we’ve already seen,” she said, after learning of his appointment. Nevertheless, the war seems to be dragging on and Ukraine continues to resist.

Almost two months have passed since Dvornikov took the lead in the Russian invasion, and as the war reaches its 100th day, intelligence sources warn that the “butcher of Syria” has disappeared. According to a New York Times report published on Tuesday, the Russian chief has not been seen in two weeks.

According to the New Yorker, U.S. officials said shortly after Dvornikov’s arrival that he attempted to coordinate what the report characterized as “disjointed air and ground units to coordinate their attacks.” However, intelligence sources recounted in the report that Russia, despite having concentrated on the Donbas region, continues to make the same mistakes that led Putin to resort to the dreaded general, even when they have captured part of the territory.

The fact that he has not appeared for weeks has led to speculation that the Russian president, seeing that he is not making progress in his “special military operation”, has “purged” him, or relieved him of command of his troops.

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