In the latest Alexander Mercouris’ video, he talks about the decision to abandon the right bank of Dnepr River in Kherson region. One of his points is that general Surovikin has made this decision and will bear the responsibility for it.
I want to address this point of responsibilities and decisions. First of all, the theater-commanding general cannot make any strategic, and especially no political decisions by himself. He can suggest his plan to his superiors in the military, such as the Chief of General Staff. Who, then, should evaluate this plan. If the Chief of General Staff would consider this plan to be viable and overall beneficial, he should present it to the minister of defence, who should present it to the supreme commander, the President of the Russian Federation. The security council should then discuss the plan and either approve or deny it.
In other words, this may be Surovikin’s initiative, but the plan should have been evaluated and approved on different levels. Which means, the responsibility for any fallout, especially of the non-strictly military nature, would be shared by all the commanders and officials up the chain of command, up to and including the President.
Yet, it was presented as a sole responsibility of Surovikin. His commanders washed their hands, and the President didn’t even acknowledge it. This is the state of Russian government and military, were the first priority of commanders and top government officials is not to take any responsibilities.
That was my commentary to Alexander’s video. Below in some my additional thoughts and impressions regarding general Sergei Surovikin.
I mentioned before I don’t trust general Surovikin. Yet it seems he has one quality which is desperately lacking in any other high-ranking commander or official in Russia — he is not afraid to take personal responsibility for his actions and to demand what is necessary.
I have very little knowledge of the Russian military history and its generals, but my overall impression is that the only quality which is truly needed for Russian commander is to take personal responsibility for his decisions. Zhukov’s only exceptional quality was his ability to say no to his superiors, even to Stalin. He demanded whatever was needed to win a battle and didn’t accept anything less. He wasn’t any kind of military or strategic genius, in my humble opinion. It’s just that Russia could supply him with more weapons and soldiers than the enemy fielded against him. And all what was needed then is to have some basic level of competence so not to lose to inferior opponent. Yet this quality of his to demand and take responsibility was what differentiated him from many others, who made their priority to please their commanders instead of doing their job. The current situation in Russian government and military is highly similar in that respect. And given some basic competence and provided with enough troops and weaponry, Surovikin shouldn’t have any problems bringing victory to the Russian Army in Ukraine.
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