The group is responsible for the defence of Russia’s military positions in the Kharkiv region. The Kremlin has been rocked by Ukraine’s Kharkiv counteroffensive, which has led to a rout of its army in the northeast of the country. Kyiv’s forces have stormed their way through Russian defensive lines, capturing the key cities of Kupiansk and Izyum along the way.
Putin’s army is reported to be trying to build new defences along the line of the Oskil River, as it seeks to halt the Ukrainian juggernaut.
Moscow’s leadership has remained tight-lipped over its military setbacks in the Kharkiv region.
Neither Putin nor his defence secretary Sergei Shoigu made any comments about Ukrainian advances on Monday morning.
However, the Kremlin despot has moved swiftly behind the scenes to apportion blame for the unfolding military catastrophe.
Putin is reported to have removed Lieutenant General Berdnikov from his post as commander of the Western Army Group.
The commander had only been appointed to his role seventeen days ago on August 26.
Lieutenant General Berdnikov had replaced Lieutenant General Sychevy, who himself had occupied the role for just three weeks.
Ukraine’s GRU intelligence unit broke the news on its Telegram channel on Monday.
They wrote: “The leadership of the Western Group of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation was removed from command.
The reason for this decision is the devastating defeats received as a result of the offensive by the Ukrainian Defence Forces.
“With the aim of restoring the group’s ‘management stability’, it will be headed by the commander of the “Centre” Army Group, Lieutenant General Oleksandr Lapin, together with his staff.
READ MORE: Putin’s army on brink of anarchy as troops turn guns on one another
The MoD added: “The rapid Ukrainian successes have significant implications for Russia’s overall operational design.
“The majority of the force in Ukraine is highly likely being forced to prioritise emergency defensive actions.
“The already limited trust deployed troops have in Russia’s senior military leadership is likely to deteriorate further.”
It comes as Russia’s army launched a total of 11 missiles against eastern Ukraine on Sunday night.
The strikes targeted civilian infrastructure and caused a complete blackout in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.