What to know about Russia’s new top commander in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with Alexander Dvornikov in 2016. (Sputnik via Reuters)

Seven weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has appointed a new top commander, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, in a major reshuffle. He assumes oversight of the campaign amid mounting civilian deaths, widespread destruction and slow advances, with Russian forces mired in logistical problems and military blunders, according to Western officials and analysts.

Before his appointment, there had not been a single military leader for all Russian forces. This lack of cohesion could change under Dvornikov, a senior figure whose appointment a senior U.S. official confirmed to The Washington Post on Saturday.

The general had been commanding Russia’s southern military district, a key post he gained after serving as the first leader of the Russian air war campaign in Syria. Russia is accused of committing war crimes in both conflicts.

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Dvornikov has extensive experience in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Moscow says it will focus its war efforts after failing to seize Kyiv and suburbs surrounding the capital. There is much that remains unknown about the Russian military leader — but his experience in eastern Ukraine and his time in Syria are key elements of his background.

Here’s what to know about Dvornikov, Russia’s new war chief in Ukraine.

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