Russian army chief sparks row after ordering troops to shave beards

Wagner mercenaries allegedly send message to Gerasimov

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Russian army chief General Valery Gerasimov has sparked a row with certain factions after ordering troops to cut their hair and shave. Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov slammed the order as a deliberate “provocation”. He added that it was a distraction from Russia’s invasion efforts in Ukraine.

Mr Kadyrov said on his Telegram channel: “Let’s just drop our guns and go and shave.

“What kind of nonsense is this?”

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was characteristically sarcastic when responding to Gerasimov’s order.

He suggested Kadyrov should double the length of his beard and claimed his fighters were too busy to stop for a shave.

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Prigozhin added: “War is the time of the active and courageous, and not of the clean-shaven.”

Gerasimov has been trying to promote more discipline in the Russian army since taking over as overall commander earlier this month.

The UK’s MoD said: “General Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff and newly appointed commander in Ukraine, has likely started his tour with a drive to improve deployed troops’ day-to-day discipline.

“Since he took command, officers have been attempting to clamp down on non-regulation uniform, travel in civilian vehicles, the use of mobile phones, and non-standard haircuts.

“The measures have been met with sceptical feedback. 

“However, some of the greatest derision has been reserved for attempts to improve the standard of troops’ shaving.”

Concerns about mobile phone use have been said to have had a serious impact on Russia’s war efforts.

The Kremlin’s defence ministry claimed mobile phones used by their own forces allowed Ukrainian troops to destroy a building and kill dozens of conscripted soldiers in Makiivka.

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The report comes after the UK’s Military of Defence (MoD) suggested Russia was also on the back foot in Ukraine.

The MoD’s update on Ukraine from January 23 revealed: “Ukraine has liberated around 54 percent of the maximum amount of extra territory Russia seized since February 24, 2022.

“Russia now controls around 18 percent of internationally recognised areas of Ukraine, including the Donbas and Crimea regions under Russian control since 2014.”

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