Russia Shuffles Command in Ukraine as Thousands Flee the East

“Bashar al-Assad is not the only one to be held accountable for killing civilians in Syria. The Russian general should, too,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in Britain. “As the commander of military operations, that means he’s behind killing Syrian civilians by giving the orders.”

The actions of the Syrian government and Russian forces were widely decried by Western officials and human rights organizations, which said that some of their tactics amounted to war crimes.

The commander of a Syrian Christian militia that received support from and fought alongside Russian forces in Syria said General Dvornikov was involved in battles in many parts of the country.

“He was a real commander, very serious, proud of the Russian army and its military history,” the commander said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with journalists.

Russia had been running its military campaign against Ukraine out of Moscow, with no central commander on the ground to coordinate air, ground and sea units. That approach helped to explain why the invasion struggled against an unexpectedly stiff Ukrainian resistance, and was plagued by poor logistics and flagging morale, American officials said.

The disorganized assault also contributed to the deaths of at least seven Russian generals, as high-ranking officers were pushed to the front lines to untangle tactical problems that Western militaries would have left to more junior officers or senior enlisted personnel.

Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, Jane Arraf from Lviv, Ukraine, and Michael Levenson from New York. Reporting was contributed by Andrew Higgins in Kosice, Slovakia, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Natalia Yermak from Dnipro, Ukraine, Cora Engelbrecht from Krakow, Victoria Kim from Seoul, Julian E. Barnes from Washington, Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut and Steven Erlanger and Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels.

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