Russian military leaders were “dismissed and arrested” amid heavy battlefield casualties.

Russian military leaders were “dismissed and arrested” amid heavy battlefield casualties.

The chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, has been suspended amid the faltering invasion of the Kremlin, a senior Ukrainian official has claimed.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a military adviser to Ukraine’s president, said “preliminary information” indicated that General Gerasimov had been removed from his post, while Vladimir Putin and his inner circle considered whether he would be allowed to continue leading the country’s armed forces.

There was no official confirmation of the reported dismissal, although speculation of a purge of senior military commanders grew after General Gerasimov was absent from Russia’s annual Victory Day parade on Monday.

Russian forces have suffered several major setbacks in their war, failing to take Kyiv early and suffering heavy casualties – both in lives and equipment.

After failing to capture the capital, Russian forces retreated and regrouped – shifting their focus to Ukraine’s eastern Donbass, a region where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian troops for eight years .

But Russia’s advance there has been slow, too, and Western officials say Russia has failed to capture any cities.

One of the most dramatic examples of Ukraine’s ability to avoid easy victories is Mariupol, where Ukrainian militants holed up in a steel mill are denying Russia full control of the city.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with the Russian President in Moscow February 27

(Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

A lack of Russian profits has led to speculation that Mr Putin is planning a purge of military leaders blamed for the failure.

According to reports, a Telegram channel run by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry had claimed that two other commanders had been dismissed due to battlefield casualties.

The Telegram feed claimed that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Osipov, was relieved of his post and arrested, while the commander of the 6 Tank Army of the Western Military District, Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel and one of the deputy commanders, [and] Commander of the 22nd Army Corps of the Southern Military District, Major General Arkady Marzoev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not achieved the quick victory that many believed he expected

(EPA)

Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said last week that Russian military chiefs were “appalled that they are being purged and expelled”.

“Be careful when you have sole command of anything in the Russian system, because it might not be long,” Mr. Wallace said.

“There is a point of tension in the system. As much as they respect the former KGB man [Mr Putin] because he is a strong leader, the Russian General Staff is made scapegoats for his mess.”

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