US national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned that the US expects Russia’s new top general directing its war in Ukraine to carry out further brutal attacks on civilians.
“This particular general has a resume that includes brutality against civilians in other theaters, in Syria, and we can expect more of the same in this theater,” Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." “This general will just be another author of crimes and brutality against Ukrainian civilians.”
CNN reported Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has named Army Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, the commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, as its theater commander of its war in Ukraine following a series of battlefield setbacks and an apparent lack of coordination among groups of Russian forces operating in Ukraine.
Dvornikov, 60, was the first commander of Russia’s military operations in Syria, after Putin sent troops there in September 2015 to back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia provided airpower to support Assad’s ground forces and helped reverse the tide of the Syrian civil war at a terrible cost.
Russian aircraft backed the Assad regime and its allies as they laid siege to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, bombarding densely populated neighborhoods and causing major civilian casualties.
Still, Sullivan downplayed the importance of the appointment to Russia’s overall chances of success, saying that Russia had already suffered “a strategic failure.”
“No appointment of any general can erase the fact that Russia has already faced a strategic failure in Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “They thought that they were going to be able to conquer the capital city and take other major cities with little resistance — that they’d in fact be welcomed with open arms. ... “And what we have learned in the first several weeks of this war is that Ukraine will never be subjugated to Russia. It doesn't matter which general President Putin tries to appoint."