Putin Appoints “Butcher Of Syria” To Lead War In Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new general known as the “Butcher of Syria” to oversee the invasion of Ukraine and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday, that it’s a choice that shows the Biden administration exactly what to expect as Moscow’s brutal aggression continues.
Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, commander of Russia’s southern military district (SMD), is Putin’s pick as the new commander to lead operations in Ukraine. U.S. officials have said the 60-year-old general has a record of brutality against civilians in Syria.
Psaki addressed what the appointment of Dvornikov could mean as global concerns grow over the carnage in Ukraine.
“The reports we are seeing of a change in military leadership and putting a general in charge who is responsible for the brutality and atrocities we saw in Syria shows there’s going to be a continuation of what we’ve seen on the ground in Ukraine and that is what we are expecting,” Psaki said.
Dvornikov gained prominence as head of Russian forces that Moscow deployed to Syria in 2015 to shore up President Bashar Assad’s regime amid the country’s devastating civil war.
Russian authorities have said nothing about a new role for Dvornikov, who received the Hero of Russia medal from President Vladimir Putin in 2016.
The appointment comes as Russia gears up for what is expected to be a major push to expand Russian control in the Donbas after failing to conquer the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. It also follows the Russian leadership’s rare public admission of heavy military losses.
“Rarely do they acknowledge, from the Russian leadership, any elements of weakness or any elements of defeat,” Psaki said, adding that the Ukrainians have “essentially won the battle of Kyiv.”
“They’ve protected their city, and that is because of their bravery, their courage, but it is also because of the supplies, the military equipment, everything we’ve expedited: $1.7 billion worth from the United States and the commitment and dedication of the American people to this war,” she continued.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed for a stronger military and political support from the West.