President Vladimir Putin sought suggestions from the commanders of his armed forces on how Russia should conduct its military campaign against Ukraine during a Saturday visit to the headquarters.
After a series of losses in 10 months, the Russians pulled out of areas surrounding the capital Kyiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, and, most recently, the city of Kherson. This forced Putin to call up the reservists, which has been the subject of rare criticism by military bloggers and allies.
Russian ground forces focus more on defense than attacking since the October appointment of Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the campaign’s leader. Meanwhile, waves of aerial strikes against cities left millions of Ukrainian civilians without heat or light for several days, even though winter is approaching.
The Kremlin released video footage on Saturday showing Putin as the head of a meeting with around 12 people. He was flanked at the table by Sergei Shoigu, Defence Minister, and Valery Gerasimov, Chief of General Staff – who have both been harshly criticized by hawkish commentators.
Putin then was shown to be at the top of a conference table at headquarters of the joint task force, where he invited suggestions from a number of military commanders.
Putin stated, “We will pay attention to commanders in every operational direction and would love to hear your suggestions on our immediate or medium-term actions.”
Surovikin also appeared in still photos on the Kremlin’s website, where he was seen attending meetings.
Putin spent Friday night at headquarters of the task force, according to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson.
There were no other details about Putin’s visit to the Headquarters or its location.