Russia President Vladimir Putin carried out a military shake-up removing several high-ranking officials, including Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, whose ruthless tactics in the Ukraine war earned him the nickname “Butcher of Mariupol”, according to a report in New York Post. The news about General Mizintsev’s ouster was posted on Telegram by Alexander Sladkov, a correspondent for the Russian state-run newspaper Izvestia. No reason has been given for the termination of the 60-year-old as deputy defence minister, the outlet further reported.
Mizintsev orchestrated the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the early months of the war last year. In September, he was appointed deputy defence minister in charge of logistics and supplies.
Imposing sanctions against Mizintsev last June, the European Union referred to him as the Butcher of Mariupol and said he was responsible for the “inhuman” siege of the shattered Ukrainian city, which Russia says it is now rebuilding.
The defence ministry has not officially responded to the development, while the Kremlin has said it cannot say anything on the subject and has referred questions on the matter to the defence ministry, Reuters reported.
Mr Putin had made a surprise visit to Mariupol in March, his first to territory captured from Ukraine since the start of Moscow’s invasion.
The Russian leader took a tour of the city in a car. The Kremlin said he visited a rebuilt musical theatre and followed the presentation of a report on reconstruction work.
Russia has seized more than a sixth of Ukraine’s territory, but sustained heavy losses in the course of the 14-month war. It has achieved no significant gains since last July, while being forced into major retreats around the cities of Kharkiv and Kherson.
It is currently bracing itself for a Ukrainian counter-offensive, while trying to take full control of the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine after months of grinding warfare.