Top Russian Commander Fired After Failed Vuhledar Assault—Reports

A top Russian military commander who was placed in charge of leading an offensive in the Ukrainian city of Vuhledar, in the eastern Donbas region, has reportedly been removed from his post.

Colonel General Rustam Muradov, 50, who heads Russia’s Eastern Military District (EMD), had previously come under criticism from Russia’s Wagner Group for his failure in Vuhledar, which a Kremlin-appointed official had claimed could turn the war in Moscow’s favor.

Russia failed to capture the coal-mining city of Vuhledar after a three-week-long battle that saw Russian tanks running over its own troops. Ukraine’s military said last month that Russian forces had lost dozens of armored vehicles in a failed attempt to take the eastern Ukrainian city.

Reports began to emerge in recent days of Muradov’s dismissal, although the Kremlin has yet to confirm that he has been replaced.

“General Muradov was removed from the post of commander of the East grouping of troops,” Russian TV presenter and journalist Ruslan Ostashko said in a post on his Telegram channel on Sunday.

Military observer Yuri Podolyak also commented on the reports, and suggested that Muradov has been replaced.

“Two days ago there was news about the dismissal of General Rustam Muradov from the command of the Vostok group of troops,” he wrote on the Russian social media site VKontakte. “Yesterday, everything was confirmed, as Lieutenant General Andrey Kuzmenko was appointed acting commander of the Vostok group of troops.”

Podolyak added: “Of course, this will not be said publicly, but Muradov is clearly dismissed for the failure of the offensive(s) led by him on Vuhledar.”

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s defense ministry by email for comment.

Muradov, who was awarded the title of Hero of Russia for his work as a military adviser in Syria, was appointed the commander of the EMD in October, state-run news agency Tass reported.

“One of our own, Hero of Russia Rustam Muradov, was appointed as the commander of the Eastern Military District – one of the most potent military districts in the country in terms of its personnel,” head of Dagestan Sergey Melikov said on Telegram at the time.

“Rustam Usmanovich has always been a leader who motivated others, a strategist who was making right decisions, a courageous fighter who was leading the attack. I am confident that these qualities in addition to his military education and combat experience obtained in the most restive regions, Chechnya and Syria, will help him brilliantly deal with combat tasks. I am proud of my friendship with this courageous person,” he added.

Muradov was heavily criticized after the failed Russian assault on Vuhledar.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank based in Washington, D.C., said in an assessment of the conflict on March 9 that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly ordered Muradov to take Vuhledar “at any cost” to settle widespread criticism within the Russian Ministry of Defense about the lack of progress and significant losses in the area.

The think tank assessed that Shoigu recently visited Muradov in western Donetsk Oblast, likely to assess the viability of the Vuhledar offensive as well as Muradov’s continued role as EMD commander.


  1. “Muradov, who was awarded the title of Hero of Russia for his work as a military adviser in Syria, was appointed the commander of the EMD in October, state-run news agency Tass reported.”

    Hero to zero in less than 6 months, when he found out that Ukrainians are not Syrians. Russia must set the bar pretty low to award these second rate generals, the title of hero of russia.

  2. Fire all of them.
    No, wait, don’t fire them. They are doing a swell job destroying their own forces.

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