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Kremlin Silent on Admiral's Alleged Dismissal Amid Black Sea Setbacks

Published March 11, 2024
2 months ago

Russia's high command has been shrouded in silence following rumors of a significant reshuffle within the naval ranks, as the Kremlin declines to confirm or deny the reported dismissal of Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian navy. The admiral's rumored removal comes in the wake of a series of naval setbacks in the Black Sea, where Ukrainian forces claim to have sunk more than two dozen Russian vessels since the onset of hostilities in February 2022.

Amidst widespread media speculation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has offered no substantive information, remarking on Monday that there had been no "public decrees" regarding Admiral Yevmenov's fate. Reports over the weekend, which included coverage from pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, suggested that Yevmenov, 61, had been supplanted by Alexander Moiseyev, former commander of the Northern Fleet. Traditionally, such high-level military appointments and dismissals would be announced through presidential decrees, potentially leaving room for secrecy in instances designated as classified.

The potential sacking of Yevmenov, who has served in the top naval post since May 2019, would represent the most significant change in Russia's military hierarchy since the removal of aerospace force chief Sergei Surovikin last year. The reshuffle rumors follow a recent embarrassment for Moscow, prompted by the loss of the patrol boat and other vessels to attacks, which has led to the strategic redeployment of its Black Sea fleet away from the historic base of Sevastopol to Novorossiysk.

While Peskov was reticent on specifics surrounding the naval command, he was more forthcoming in discussing international relations, especially in light of comments made by Pope Francis regarding Ukraine. President Putin has repeatedly extended an offer to negotiate, said Peskov, but these have been rejected by Kyiv. The Pope's call for peace and negotiation has been supported by Russian officials, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova interpreting it as an appeal for the West to admit its miscalculations and ambitions in the conflict.

The topic of a potential nuclear escalation was also brought up as Peskov addressed a CNN report about a possible Russian nuclear strike being considered in late 2022. Peskov dismissed this as speculation from the newspapers, neither confirming nor denying the conversations within the Russian military command at the time.

As the conflict persists, the situation on the battlefield casts doubt on Western hopes for a "strategic defeat" of Russia, according to Peskov, who cites the ongoing military engagements as proof of Russia's enduring strength and resolve.

While the international community watches closely, the true circumstances surrounding the leadership of Russia's navy and the broader scope of its military strategy, particularly in Ukraine, remain as opaque as ever under the shadow of the Kremlin's silence.

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