Vladimir Putin ousted the Russian general who was responsible for the chaotic logistics operation that hamstrung his army as its Ukraine invasion floundered — and named a notoriously brutal replacement.
Gen. Dmitry Bulgakov, 67, was “released” Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram, so that he could transfer into a new but unspecified role.
Bulgakov’s successor, Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, is the infamous “Butcher of Mariupol” who ordered some of the Ukraine invasion’s worst atrocities — including an airstrike on a maternity hospital and an attack on a theater that was sheltering hundreds of children.
Previously, Mizintsev was responsible for the siege of Aleppo in Syria, where he ordered cluster-bomb strikes on residential areas to pound the city into submission.
Bulgakov has been blamed for Russia’s chronic inability to keep its troops in Ukraine fed and armed — forcing the humiliating retreat from Kyiv and the purchase of artillery and drones from North Korea and Iran, two of the only countries willing to deal with the pariah nation.
Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense reported, Russian troops attacked a dam on the Siverskyi Donets River with short-range ballistic missiles in an effort to flood Ukrainian military crossing points and slow their advance.
The bombing missions, which came on Wednesday and Thursday, “are unlikely to have caused significant disruption to Ukrainian operations,” the ministry noted.
Armed Russian troops continued their door-to-door efforts in the occupied Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk to force locals to “vote” in a sham referendum to break away and join Russia.
The voting “looked more like an opinion survey under the gun barrels,” Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said.
About 100 refugees from ruined Mariupol gathered in Kyiv to protest the faux election, which echoes the 2014 referendum that Russia used as a pretext for its annexation of Crimea.
“It’s an illusion of choice when there isn’t any,” Elina Sytkova, 21, told CNBC.
In New York, China continued to signal its displeasure over Putin’s invasion.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who met with his Ukrainian counterpart this week during the UN General Assembly, “call[ed] on all parties concerned to keep the crisis from spilling over and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries,” he said Saturday in a General Assembly speech.