ISW: Russian General Staff Losing Control Over Commanders

A serious problem has made its way to the public arena.


The blackmail of the Russian Defence Ministry by Wagner PMC chief Evgeny Prigozhin and Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov has revealed a serious problem in the Russian occupation army. The invaders are not able to coordinate a coherent defence along the entire front line.

Clear problems in the Russian army’s chain of command may affect its ability to resist a Ukrainian counteroffensive. This has been highlighted by analysts at the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in a new report.

The analysts believe that Prigozhin and head Kadyrov deliberately blackmailed the Russian Defence Ministry that the Wagner military might withdraw from Bakhmut and that Kadyrovtsy might take their place. This way they tried to force the Russian military command to allocate ammunition for the Wagner mercenaries.

Kadyrov might have supported Prigozhin in this situation because he wanted to show the supposed effectiveness of his forces against Gerasimov and Shoigu’s inability to win decisive victories during the winter-spring offensive, and thus regain the lost favour of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Ministry of Defence had to concede and it was announced that the Wagner soldiers would be given more arms and ammunition. The Russian Federation agreed to this because it was likely that the redeployment of the Kadyrovtsy to Bakhmut from other directions could have posed a threat to defence against the Ukrainian military in different parts of the front, the ISW noted.

Gerasimov’s forced need to negotiate with Prigozhin and Kadyrov has shown that there are big problems in the chain of command in the Russian army. And this in turn may affect the ability of the Russian occupiers to resist a Ukrainian counter-offensive. This shows that the Russian Federation is not able to coordinate a coherent defence along the entire front line, ISW analysts said.

The ISW stressed that the post of commander-in-chief should in principle allow Gerasimov to command any occupant forces that are involved in the war against Ukraine and their leaders. Consequently, the leaders of irregular formations, such as the Wagner and Akhmat PMCs, should also listen to him. However, the current situation shows that Prigozhin and Kadyrov are obviously capable of making independent decisions.

“These developments call into question Russia’s ability to coordinate a concerted defensive campaign throughout the theatre of war. Russian military commanders appear to delegate increasingly the responsibility for different parts of the front in Ukraine to different Russian commanders, while the authority of the commander of the entire theatre of war continues to diminish. Gerasimov’s diminished ability to control his commanders is likely to limit further the Russian military’s ability to conduct coordinated operations covering different areas of responsibility,” the Institute for the Study of War concluded.


  1. Divide et Impera is always a noteworthy strategy in war. This time, it’s the cockroaches that are dividing themselves. We’ll let Ukraine do the conquering.

  2. I’m hearing “general” Armageddon is now tasked with wags, Bakhmut, and the kadaverites. Feeling more “goodwill” gestures coming soon.

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