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Russia ‘fires army commander after just 16 days’ amid major losses in Kharkiv

Russia has fired an army commander just 16 days after he was appointed to his role, Ukraine has claimed, after Kyiv’s forces made major gains.

Lieutenant General Roman Berdnikov was appointed to the position of commander of Russian army’s Western Military District on 26 August, replacing Lieutenant General Sychecvy.

But he lasted little more than two weeks before being removed, according to the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence. Ukrainian credited the change in leadership to the “crushing defeats” by its troops in the Kharkiv region.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said the Russian troop group will now be headed by Lieutenant General Oleksander Lapin.

Russia is yet to confirm any of these changes.

Back in June, Lieutenant Berdnikov was rumoured to have been killed in an attack carried out by Kyiv’s forces.

He had previously been the commander of the Russian armed forces task force in Syria, and was moved to lead troops in the Donbas People’s Republic.

Kyiv’s counteroffensive made significant gains over the weekend, reclaiming Russia-occupied areas within the region. Russian troops were forced to retreat as to not end up surrounded by Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukraine has reportedly liberated 1,160 square miles since the beginning of September and was within 30 miles of the Russian border.

Since Ukraine successfully captured areas of the Kharkiv region, parts of the country have been hit by attacks from Russia, leaving areas with blackouts and no water supplies.

“No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.

The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, also denounced the strikes on Twitter: “Russia’s apparent response to Ukraine liberating cities and villages in the east: sending missiles to attempt to destroy critical civilian infrastructure.”

Moscow denies its forces deliberately target civilians.

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