One of the most notable traits of dictators is the use of fall guys who do their dirty work only to be discarded when they are no longer useful. One of the finest examples are Grand Viziers (akin to a Prime Minister) of the Ottoman Empire who did the Sultan’s bidding. When policies they enacted took a turn for the worse, the Vizier would usually be strangled with a bow string. They were then quickly replaced with another ambitious minister who would inevitably meet the same fate. This explains why there were 284 Grand Viziers and only 36 Sultans from 1299 to 1922. The Ottoman Grand Viziers and countless other fall guys like them are a testament to human naivete and misplaced confidence in oneself. They deluded themselves into believing that “this time will be different” despite all evidence to the contrary. That they met a bad end was no surprise to anyone other than themselves.
Death & Disorder – Leading By Example
The nine Russian generals who have thus far been killed in the Ukraine-Russia War are 21st century versions of Ottoman Grand Viziers. Each of them has headed into Ukraine with superiority complexes or visions of glory dancing in their heads. They were sent there to set things right, only to return home in a coffin. Usually, the term “cannon fodder” reserved for conscripts or the lower ranks of an army. These are the men first sent into battle to test a formidable enemy’s strength. Many of them never make it back from the battlefield. The Russian Army in Ukraine is in the process of redefining “cannon fodder” to include its upper echelons. The war has been going on for nine weeks and nine generals have been killed up to this point. Even by historical standards this is unprecedented, especially in a war that was supposed to last no more than a week. At this rate, the Russians are going to be running out of generals before they run out of soldiers.
How bad is the situation for Russian generals in Ukraine? The nine that were killed in just two months is equal to the nine American Generals killed in Vietnam. There is one major difference. It took the Russians just two months to attain the same total that took the Americans twenty years. The top ranks of the Russian Army are leading an unprecedented race to the bottom. The optics of losing one general is bad enough. Losing nine in such a short time is mind boggling. What does it say about the Russian military if they cannot protect their elites? The Russians would probably make the counter argument that the generals are showing on the spot leadership at a time when their armed forces badly need a boost in morale. In other words, the generals are leading by example and that example is one 22,000 soldiers have followed to the grave.
Live Targets – A Near Death Experience
The generals are leading and dying on the battlefield in Ukraine at the direction of Vladimir Putin. The Russian President is asking his military men to do something that he never would. Putin has a bunker mentality, always safeguarding himself and his own interests above all others. From what can be discerned by leaks from those close to his inner circle, Putin is furious with how the war has been conducted. He has already removed or reassigned many higher ups in the security service and military. For those military leaders who want to avoid house arrest, prison or worse they have chosen or been forced to choose a more hands on approach to military affairs. This puts them within range of Ukrainian snipers and artillery strikes. The Ukrainian Army has often been informed ahead of time as to the exact location of these generals. Whether this was through their own sources, Russian turncoats or American intelligence is not known. Whatever the case, Russian generals have a target on their backs as soon as they move close to the front.
The latest instance of a Russian military commander coming under fire with predictable consequences concerns Valery Gerasimov. As the Russian Army’s Chief of Staff, Gerasimov is its top military commander. He has direct access to Putin. Gerasimov has firsthand experience of the Russian President’s anger and disappointment with the so called “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine. Most likely at Putin’s direction, Gerasimov turned up in the Kharkiv region to lead the all-out Russian effort to make gains in the nearby Donbas prior to the May 9th Victory Day celebration in Russia. Putin badly needs a win and Gerasimov was sent to the front in the hopes he could deliver one. Instead, what he got for his trouble was a near death experience.
The Ukrainians attacked a Russian command post near the city of Izyum that Gerasimov was visiting. The attack reportedly killed upwards of 200 soldiers. Gerasimov narrowly escaped with his life intact and returned to Russia. It remains to be seen what effect his experience will have on the war’s conduct. Putin will now have contact with someone who has personally experienced the lethality of Ukrainian forces. Gerasimov will be in no position to argue with his boss, but he bears the scars from his attempt at command in the field. Of course, this abruptly ended when he nearly became the tenth Russian general killed. Where does Gerasimov go after this? It is almost certainly up to Putin. The latter is running out of options to change the war in Russia’s favor.
Failure At The Front – A Boost In Morale
The killing of nine Russian generals is an astonishing figure. One that is likely to grow in the coming weeks. How many more losses can the Russians incur before they realize the war in Ukraine might not be winnable? Gersimov is now the living embodiment of what can happen to any Russian military leader in Ukraine. Will the near miss on Gersimov give Putin pause or enrage him further? If it is not obvious by now, then it never will be that sending generals to the frontlines has little effect on the situation, at least not in Russia’s favor. The only boost in morale that Russian generals have managed to provide has been to the Ukrainians. If they can kill nine Russian generals and come close to killing the Army’s Chief of Staff, then what can they not do? The answer may soon be forthcoming.
Click here for: The Bravery of Being Out of Range – The Ghost of Kyiv (The Russian Invasion of Ukraine #64)