WASHINGTON – Russia’s top general, Valery Gerasimov, visited the Donbas front in the Ukraine war last week, according to a Pentagon official, although claims that he was injured in a Ukrainian offensive could not be substantiated.
“What we can affirm is that we know he was in the Donbas for several days last week,” a senior US defense official told journalists.
“We don’t think he’s still there – we think he’s departed and is back in Russia,” the official said.
“We are unable to corroborate claims that he was hurt.”
According to reports from Ukrainian sources, Ukraine forces attacked a command center in Izium on Saturday, where Gerasimov, the Russian armed forces’ chief of general staff, had gone to meet with top field commanders.
However, he had evidently departed the scene before the bombardment began.
Gerasimov was said to be traveling the front to better grasp field circumstances and rally his troops as Russian forces attempt to take control of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas of eastern Ukraine after failing to conquer Kyiv in the north.
In a daily briefing on the war, a Pentagon official said Monday that Russian forces were making little progress against Ukraine troops in the region, calling their efforts “anemic.”
“The Russians continue to make scant, if any, progress in the Donbas. They’ve made some minor gains in the Luhansk Oblast east of Izium and Popasna.”
Officials portrayed Russian soldiers as demoralized and suffering from inadequate leadership and organization after taking control of communities and then handing them back to Ukrainian militants.
The Russian effort on the ground is “extremely tepid, very unequal… and, quite honestly, in some areas, the best word to characterize it would be anemic,” according to the official.