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Stabbed in the back, treacherously Russia’s Defense Ministry dismissed a major general after he criticized the military’s top brass. Here’s what he told his men in a speech afterward.
As the Russian military tries to find its bearings after a mutiny by the nation’s most prominent mercenary group amid Ukraine’s ongoing counterstrike, the Defense Ministry confronts a new controversy this week in Major General Ivan Popov (call sign “Spartak”), the now ex-commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army, who says he was dismissed from his post after warning the military’s top brass about supply and logistical shortages hindering the Russian army. On July 12, State Duma deputy Andrey Gurulev amplified Popov’s story by sharing an audio recording of the major general’s speech to his subordinates announcing his dismissal. Andrey Turchak, a senior official in the United Russia political party, subsequently accused Gurulev of creating a “political show” by publishing the recording of the speech, arguing that Popov’s remarks to his troops were private. According to the Telegram channel Grey Zone, which has links to Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner Group, Popov was removed from his position after delivering a report to General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov in which Popov recommended rotating Russian units on the front lines. What follows is a translation of Popov’s speech.
Good morning, my dearest gladiators, my boys, my family!
I had to sit and collect my thoughts — so much has happened in the last two days — but I can now speak about it confidently. I was taken into custody and dismissed from my post. Lieutenant General Lyamin arrived and took command of the army. I await what comes next in my military fate, how it changes, and any offer to continue my service further.
From the very start, I was honest with you, and I was forthright with you. I closed the gap between all the army’s gladiators, from the soldier to the marshal. In our case, it went all the way to the chief of staff, Major General Medvedev, because we die alike, we fight alike, we fear alike, and we suffer alike. I made absolutely no distinctions between you, and I was always as honest as possible with you from the first day you showed up in our army.
And so I tell you honestly that a difficult situation came up with the senior command where I either had to remain silent and take the coward’s way out, saying what they wanted to hear, or I could say it like it is. Speaking in your name and in the name of all our dead brothers in arms, I didn’t have the right to lie, and so I laid out all the problem areas with provisions that plague our combat work in the army today. I didn’t sugarcoat it. I pinpointed the main tragedy of today’s warfare: the lack of counterbattery fire, the lack of artillery reconnaissance stations, and the mass death and mutilation of all our brothers by enemy artillery.
I raised several other issues, too, speaking at the highest level and as frankly and harshly as possible. As a result, it seems the senior commanders perceived me to be some kind of danger and promptly — before the Sun had even set — threw together an order from the defense minister, removed me from my post, and got rid of me. As many regiment commanders in the division today have said, the soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces couldn’t break through our lines — our own senior command hit us from behind, treacherously and back-stabbingly decapitating the army at the most difficult and grueling moment.
But I remain constantly available to all soldiers and sergeants, all army warrant officers, for absolutely everyone, 24/7, whatever the problems, whether it’s something at home, something with your families, something logistical, combat-related, or anything at all. We’ll keep the work going in the group. I am always available to you. It’s an honor for me to serve alongside you. It brings me pride, I cherish it, and I’ll do everything in my power and even beyond to ensure that it’s easier for you to fight and that as many of our comrades as possible come home alive.
I continue to carry out the combat mission, especially in the name of those who will never return from the battlefield. In the name of their memory, and in the name of the blood shed in Zaporizhia by soldiers and officers, it is our duty to annihilate the enemy, to turn back his offensive, and to create the conditions for our next actions. And that’s how we honor the memory of our fallen comrades.
Always with you and always here for you, your Spartak.
Cover photo: Russian Defense Ministry
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