Alexander Dvornikov, a relentless general
The
Very high number of civilian casualties
Hero of the Russian Federation
Putin's general
Born in the eastern regions of Russia
A military man who doesn't want to be in the spotlight
Lack of leadership qualities in the force
Good knowledge of the terrain
A long war
A mystery in the west
Putin loyalists
Military Purge
A heavy burden
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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Alexander Dvornikov, a relentless general

He was appointed head of the "special military operation" in Ukraine in mid-April when it became clear that Russia had made numerous strategic mistakes on the ground. Putin turned to one of his most loyal men, who has a reputation as a tough guy among tough guys and whose biography has an aura of mystery about it.

Image: By Депапартамент информациии и массссовых коммммуникаций Министерства обороны Росссийской Федерациии - https://structure.mil.ru/management/info.htm?id=12088926%40SD_Employee, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w /index.php?curid=112629245

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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The "Butcher of Syria"

"Butcher of Syria" is the derogatory nickname many Western media use to refer to Alexander Dvornikov (pictured - second from left - visiting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during the Syrian campaign). Dvornikov has been associated with extreme violence in his choice of military techniques in Syrian territory, where Russia supported Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that began in 2011.

Image: From Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49552136

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Very high number of civilian casualties

Much has been written about the military parallels between the wars in Syria and Ukraine, but there is one that sums it all up and supposedly defines Alexander Dvornikov's character: civilian casualties are not a concern in his concept of war.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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"Total Contempt"

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby recalled the military's "utter disregard" (as reported in the Washington Post) when it came to the well-being of civilian populations.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Hero of the Russian Federation

However, this notion of a villain does not match the esteem in which the Russian authorities hold Dvornikov, who was named a "Hero of the Russian Federation" in 2016 for his military services.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Putin's general

It was Putin who made him a general by decree on June 23, 2020.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Born in the eastern regions of Russia

Alexander Dvornikov was born on August 22, 1961 in Ussuriysk (pictured), a city in the Primorsky Krai, which lies on the coast of the Sea of Japan. He began his military career in Ussuriysk in 1978 and then went to Moscow to attend the command school.

Image: By Andshel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20299180

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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"Scorched earth"

Pentagon spokesman Jake Sullivan reckoned from the start that Russian forces, commanded by Alexander Dvornikov, would likely adopt a "scorched earth" policy and destroy anything in their path.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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A military man who doesn't want to be in the spotlight

Alexander Dvornikov is a ruthless military man who obeys Putin's orders and, in reality, doesn't want to be in the spotlight. His career was unremarkable until the world got to know him in Syria. And indeed (as can be seen in this gallery), pictures of him are not plentiful. His actions on the battlefield, which are very brutal, define him.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Lack of leadership qualities in the force

One of the mistakes attributed to Russian military strategy in the first phase of the invasion of Ukraine is the lack of strong leadership. As a result, generals and other senior commanders have had to go to the front lines, and according to some sources, more than a number of senior military figures have been killed in Ukraine. Dvornikov would, in principle, take that lead.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Good knowledge of the terrain

According to most published analyses, one of the main reasons for Putin's decision to appoint Dvornikov as warlord was his knowledge of the terrain: he has been the head of the Southern Military District, which includes the territories bordering the Donbass, since 2016.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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A long war

Analysts also conclude that Putin has decided that Ukraine will be a long conflict. Retired US military officer James Stavridis told NBC that electing a "hardliner" like Dvornikov means Putin is banking on a war that will last "months or even years."

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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A mystery in the west

But apart from his military record in the Syrian war, Alexander Dvornikov is a mystery outside of Russia. He'll emerge from this war a hero or a villain, depending on who you ask.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Putin loyalists

Loyalty to Putin is taken for granted in Alexander Dvornikov, as this is a trait the Russian president values very much.

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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Military Purge

Simultaneously with the appointment of Alexander Dvornikov, Ukrainian officials claimed that Putin carried out a purge of military commanders and fired senior officers for inefficiency in Ukraine. Pictured: Putin and his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

 

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Alexander Dvornikov, the brutal general heading up Putin's war in Ukraine
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A heavy burden

So, at 60, Alexander Dvornikov carries a heavy burden on his shoulders: he must win the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, while the world is against his actions. If the conflict continues and the Kremlin feels paralyzed, Dvornikov could face the consequences.

 

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