Sergei Surovikin, the commander now leading Russia's attacks on Ukraine, has been described as 'absolutely ruthless' by former colleagues: 'I am afraid his hands will be completely covered in Ukrainian blood'
- Sergei Surovikin is Russia's new top commander, and his ex-colleagues call him "Gen. Armageddon."
- He is suspected of masterminding Monday's deadly attacks across Ukraine.
- Surovikin led Russian troops in Syria during the early 2000s, The New York Times reported.
Former colleagues describe the new commander of Russia's military as "absolutely ruthless" and say he has "little regard for human life," which may have been on display in Monday's deadly airstrikes across the country.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin of Russia's air force was appointed by the country's Defense Ministry on Saturday as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, Reuters reported. While it's unclear who issued the directive for Monday's airstrikes, Surovikin has been known to bomb civilian areas.
A former Defense Ministry official who worked with Surovikin told The Guardian Australia they weren't surprised by the deadly bombing in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv that killed at least five people Monday morning.
"Surovikin is absolutely ruthless, with little regard for human life," the unnamed former colleague said. "I am afraid his hands will be completely covered in Ukrainian blood."
Because of his callous approach to war, colleagues have given him the nickname "Gen. Armageddon," The Guardian reported.
According to The New York Times, Surovikin led Russian troops in Syria during the country's civil war in the early 2000s. Human Rights Watch said he was among the military leaders who might bear "command responsibility for violations during the 2019-2020 Idlib offensive" in Syria.
During the Idlib offensive, the Syrian-Russian alliance launched dozens of air and ground attacks that hit homes, schools, and healthcare facilities. Human Rights Watch reported the attacks killed at least 1,600 civilians and displaced an estimated 1.4 million people.
Surovikin was born in 1966 in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and has served in the army since at least 1991, Al Jazeera reported. That year, he spent at least six months in prison after soldiers under his command killed three protesters during a failed coup attempt in Moscow, The Times reported.
On February 23, a day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Surovikin was placed on a European Union sanctions list for supporting and implementing policies that undermined and threatened the independence of Ukraine.