Alexander Dvornikov leads the Russian army in Donbas and that is not a good sign (Photo by Vladimir Putin and Alexander Dvornikov in 2016 by Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) (Photo: via Associated Press)
War in Ukraine – a name synonymous with massacre. On Tuesday, April 19, Russia opened a “new phase” of the war it launched in February in Ukraine, centered on eastern Ukraine. After failing to capture Kyiv and its region, Moscow decided to focus on Donbass, part of which fell into the hands of pro-Russian separatists and where bloody fighting intensified.
Moscow’s initial strategy ‘was a disaster’, analysis of Dinar US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Tyson Wetzel, Research Associate at the Atlantic Council. “He was based on the mistaken assumption that the Ukrainian resistance would quickly collapse and that the capital, if not the entire country, would fall within three to five days.” Instead, the Ukrainian resistance prevented the invader from advancing west, humiliating the Kremlin in the process by sinking its flagship Moskva.
To put every opportunity on his side in the Donbass and avoid a new setback, on April 10, Vladimir Putin placed General Alexander Dvornikov, known as the “Butcher of Syria”, at the head of the Russian forces. His presence does not bode well for the Ukrainian army and civilians still there.
Birth of “The Butcher”
The name of Alexander Dvornikov is unfortunately famous since his expeditions in Syria, Chechnya and now in eastern Ukraine.
60-year-old Alexander Dvornikov began building his bloody reputation in 1997 when he took command of a motorized rifle division martyred in 1999 in the Chechen capital Grozny. He was going to use cluster bombs as well as cruise missiles to destroy the city. Then he gained a reputation as a “butcher” that he entrenched everywhere else, he notesUPS.
Everywhere, especially in Syria, where, as of September 2015, Vladimir Putin entrusted him with the leadership of the Russian intervention. Then it will continue for weeks in the city of Aleppo, which it will destroy with cluster bombs and thermal weapons. Simultaneously with Bashar al-Assad’s forces, he carried out extensive bombing of Syrian neighborhoods, hospitals, and civilians. 50,000 of those died there. The general was also honored as a “Hero of the Russian Federation” in 2016 for his work there, notes Washington Post.
The Russian general also worked with the feared and controversial Wagner Group, which has been active in Syria since 2015 and also operates in Ukraine. In 2016, he became the commander of the Southern District of the Russian Army – one of the largest in the country, responsible for Crimea, Ukraine and Chechnya in particular.
Dvornikov, “The worst of the worst”
The newspaper quoted the former head of US forces in Europe, Admiral StavridisUPScalls Alexander Dvornikov “the worst of the worst”, not least because in his previous posts he did not hesitate to use chemical weapons.
“It completely ignores the avoidance of harm to civilians as well as the rules of war,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
In the battle to retake the Syrian city of Palmyra, Dvornikov demonstrated his belief in “the priority of the mission,” and if you need to make a great effort to get the job done, he will.” Washington Post Mark Gallotti, Professor Emeritus at University College London who studies the Russian Armed Forces.
Dvornikov’s tactics are already used in Ukraine
Even if at present it is difficult to determine the exact role he played there in some violations, his bloody methods have been observed in Ukraine since February 24, in Mariupol, for example. Such as the use of cluster bombs, the continuous bombing of civilian areas, and the targeting of hospitals.
Also, as the commander of the Southern District, we owe him the bombing of the Kramatorsk station. On April 8, in the city of Donbass still under Ukrainian control, a missile hit civilians trying to flee the advance of Russian forces. According to the official report, the raid left 52 people dead and 102 wounded.
According to a senior US Department of Defense official, “the Russians have had more success in the south than in the north” since the invasion began. However, Alexander Dvornikov works in the south.
Very dark days ahead in Donbass
To seize Mariupol, as well as areas around Luhansk and Donetsk, which are under the control of pro-Russian separatists, “the general would have to rely on an army that might already be exhausted, which might call up reservists under the age of 60, Syrian volunteers. And the Wagner militia to plug the holes,” Analyzes Southwest.
“The Donbass campaign will be brutal, bloody and indiscriminate,” warns Lt. Col. Tyson Wetzel. “Dvornikov is an experienced combat commander,” “Probably using the same brutal tactics that he used [en Syrie], but also in Mariupol. His nickname “The Butcher of Syria” is not a rapist.
″This particular general has an autobiography of brutality against civilians. “We can expect more or less the same in this theater,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday, April 17.
But he notes that “no appointment of a general can erase the fact that Russia has already faced a strategic failure in Ukraine.”
Specifically, Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Alexander Dvornikov is aimed at making people forget this annoyance as quickly as possible by playing on the symbols. Analysts say the Russian president wants to achieve victory in Donbass before the May 9 military parade on Red Square marking the Soviet victory over the Nazis in 1945.
See also on The HuffPost: Ukraine: Six killed in “strong” missile strikes on Lviv
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.