Russian Top General Gerasimov Missing for a Month: Rampant Speculation Over His Fate

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.29 - 2024 9:47 AM CET

Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
Russian Top General Gerasimov Missing for a Month.

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General Valeriy Gerasimov, the top commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, has been absent from the public eye for a month, leading to rampant speculation about his fate. Norwegian media VG, delving into the matter, highlights the mystery surrounding one of Russia’s top military leaders.

Both VG and Newsweek report that Gerasimov was last seen publicly on December 29, during an event where he was awarding state prizes to military personnel for their performance in the occupation of Marinka in Ukraine's Donetsk region. Since then, Gerasimov has neither been quoted nor mentioned by state media, nor has he been seen in public.

Speculation began to swirl earlier in the month following a Ukrainian attack on a Russian command post near Sevastopol and a military unit near Yevpatoria on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Rumors emerged that Gerasimov might have been killed in the attack, particularly as it was rumored he was at a command post near Sevastopol at the time of the attack. However, none of these rumors have been confirmed, and no evidence has been presented to substantiate the claims.

Jacob Kaarsbo, a senior analyst at Think Tank Europe, told VG it's "hard to say" what happened to Gerasimov. While there have been rumors since early January of a specific attack on Crimea where he was present, Kaarsbo also noted that there have been previous false rumors about the deaths of many Russian top officials. It’s also not unusual for Gerasimov not to be seen publicly for extended periods.

In a mid-January op-ed in Kyiv Post, retired U.S. Army Colonel Jonathan Sweet and former economist Mark Toth analyzed the rumors surrounding Gerasimov. They deemed it "doubtful" that the Russian general was dead, but noted the Kremlin's ongoing silence and Moscow's lack of response to inquiries about Gerasimov's whereabouts as intriguing. They referenced Kremlin's efforts to deny Admiral Viktor Sokolov's death after the Storm Shadow missile attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters on September 22.

American military analyst Jan Kallberg, associated with The Center for European Policy Analysis, has also commented on Gerasimov's disappearance on social media platform X. On January 26, Kallberg speculated that "something has happened," suggesting that if Gerasimov had died, the regime would likely have already blamed the Ukrainians, leading to theories of hospitalization or detainment by security apparatus.

Gerasimov's absence is not the first of its kind. He also disappeared for several weeks after a failed mutiny attempt by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former financier of the private military company Wagner, against the Kremlin's military top brass in the summer.

Newsweek reported that they reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment on the matter but have not received a response.

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