An indication of prospects for current Russian army commanders is the fate of their predecessors. Here’s what’s become of them.
Former army commanders are waiting for (or possibly no longer expecting) assignment to higher posts (usually MD commander), and they fall into three groups.
Wearing three stars is one clear sign of excellent prospects. Most former commanders are two-stars. Those in the general-colonel group include Chayko, Kuralenko, and Kuzovlev.
Chayko reportedly also wears Hero of the Russian Federation (2020). He seems the most accomplished of the bunch, and he’s quite young. He
had a stint as likely remains a deputy chief of the General Staff.
Still don’t have a picture of Chayko as a general-colonel with his Hero of the RF medal.
Though wearing three stars, Kuralenko is already 59. His pedigree is good, but he’s on a detour as chief of Russia’s military police.
General-lieutenants with good chances include Nikiforov, Teplinskiy, and Zavizon. They’re serving as chief of staff, first deputy commander of an MD.
Teplinskiy seemed like a fast-burner having been COS/FDC for two MDs. He has a Hero of the RF (1995) he earned as a JO under fire (not as a general safe at headquarters) in the First Chechen War. But Teplinskiy’s been waiting for his third star seven years and counting.
Prominent service in Syria — commander or chief of staff, deputy commander of the RF MOD contingent — may be a harbinger of future promotions. Chayko did three tours — one as chief of staff and two as commander. Kuzovlev and Nikiforov are past commanders. Zavizon was a deputy commander in Syria.
Teplinskiy doesn’t have Syrian time, but allegedly led Russian militias in the Donbass. Zavizon also reportedly commanded them.
Generals seemingly on course for a chance at a higher post include: Avdeyev, Chebotarev (but where is he?), Kuzmenko (he’s young but now sidetracked at MAGS), Muradov, Nosulev, Peryazev (though he may stay in GUBP), Seritskiy, Sevryukov, and Tsekov (if he escapes VUNTs SV).
Time is working against all of them. The best chances may belong to Avdeyev, Muradov, Nosulev, Seritskiy, and Sevryukov. They are all deputy MD commanders. Muradov might be a good bet; he’s young and just had the high-profile job of peacekeeping in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former MD commanders who are off course include: Astapov, Kaloyev, Kovalenko, Poplavskiy, Romanchuk, Salmin, and Tsilko. They are off track mostly for age and failure to secure a COS/FDC post in an MD. Some have accepted honorable pre-retirement jobs out of the mainstream like Deputy CINC of the Navy or department chair at MAGS.
It’s Not Scientific
There’s no formula for any of this. Case in point: there was no real reason to see General-Colonel Gennadiy Zhidko coming as the new Eastern MD commander in late 2018. He was chief of staff in Syria and had a year as deputy chief of the General Staff. That alone isn’t much to recommend an officer for MD command. It’s hard to say whom he impressed — possibly General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov. He also served under Western MD commander General-Colonel Zhuravlev in Syria. The personal connections are very, very difficult to track.
Some detail on each of the above-mentioned former army commanders follows:
General-Lieutenant Viktor Astapov…58…former commander, 49th CAA (2012-2013)…deputy commander of the Southern MD…chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Western MD…Deputy CINC of the Navy for Ground and Coastal Troops.
General-Lieutenant Aleksey Avdeyev…54…former commander, 29th CAA (2014-2017) and 1st TA (2017-2018)…deputy commander of the Southern MD.
General-Colonel Aleksandr Chayko…50…former commander, 20th CAA (2014), 1st TA (2014-2017)…chief of staff of the Russian group of troops in Syria and two tours as its commander…chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Eastern MD…deputy chief of the General Staff.
General-Major Sergey Chebotarev…??…former commander, 35th CAA (2017-2020)…current posting unknown.
General-Major Dmitriy Kovalenko…??…former commander, 36th CAA (2015-2017)…deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet for Ground and Coastal Troops.
General-Colonel Sergey Kuralenko…59…former commander, 49th CAA (2011-2012) and 6th CAA (2013-2015)…deputy commander of the Western MD…deputy commander and commander of Russian group of troops in Syria…chief of staff, first deputy commander, Eastern MD…chief of the Main Military Police Directorate, RF MOD.
General-Lieutenant Andrey Kuzmenko…48…former commander, 6th CAA (2015-2019)…chairs a department of the Military Academy of the General Staff.
General-Colonel Sergey Kuzovlev…54…former commander, 20th CAA (2015-2016), 58th CAA (2016-2017), 8th CAA (2017-2019)…chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Southern MD…commander of Russian group of troops in Syria.
General-Lieutenant Rustam Muradov…48…former commander, 2nd CAA (2017-2018)…deputy commander, Southern MD…commanded Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
General-Lieutenant Yevgeniy Nikiforov…51…former commander, 20th CAA (2016-2017), 58th CAA (2017-2019)…chief of staff, first deputy commander, Eastern MD…commander of Russian group of troops in Syria.
General-Lieutenant Mikhail Nosulev …56…former commander, 36th CAA (2017-2019)…deputy commander, Eastern MD.
General-Major Aleksandr Peryazev…55…former commander, 20th CAA (2017-2018)…deputy chief, Main Combat Training Directorate, RF Armed Forces.
General-Lieutenant Yevgeniy Poplavskiy…59…former commander, 29th CAA (2017-2018)…deputy commander, Central MD.
General-Lieutenant Aleksey Salmin…59…former commander, 5th CAA (2013-2016)…first deputy commander (probably for Ground and Coastal Troops), Pacific Fleet…deputy commander, Western MD.
General-Lieutenant Igor Seritskiy…56…former commander, 2nd CAA (2014-2016)…deputy commander, Western MD.
General-Lieutenant Sergey Sevryukov…57…former commander, 49th CAA (2013-2019)…deputy commander, Eastern MD.
General-Lieutenant Mikhail Teplinskiy…52…former commander, 36th CAA (2013-2015)…chief of staff, first deputy commander, Southern MD…chief of staff, first deputy commander, Central MD.
General-Lieutenant Vladimir Tsilko…61…former commander, 36th CAA (2009-2012)…deputy commander, Eastern MD…chairs command and control department of MAGs.
General-Lieutenant Aleksey Zavizon…56…former commander, 41st CAA (2016-2018)…chief of staff, first deputy commander, Western MD.