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Russian Pacific Fleet's Commander Resigns After Snap Inspection

Adm. Sergei Avakyants
Adm. Sergei Avakyants (Russian Ministry of Defense)

Published Apr 20, 2023 6:12 PM by Paul Benecki

Just days after a snap inspection that the Russian defense ministry described as a success, the top commander of Russia's Pacific Fleet has chosen to resign in order to take up a new post as the head of Russia's "centers for military sports training and patriotic education."

On April 14, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a sudden full-alert inspection of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet. With no notice, all units were ordered to attain peak combat readiness and prepare for inspection and training. Among other objectives, the force would prepare to repel simulated enemy units near the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, two outposts of the Russian Federation in the Sea of Okhotsk. 

The sweeping inspection was much larger than previous no-notice drills, which have generally focused on individual units or subregions. In a statement Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that the mass inspection "confirmed the high readiness of the forces to repel the aggression of a possible enemy from the ocean and sea."

Courtesy Russian Ministry of Defense / state-owned media

On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Siberian envoy Yury Trutnev announced that Adm. Sergei Avakyants, the fleet's commander, has accepted a new post as head of a patriotic-education initiative. Under Adm. Avakyants' leadership, 12 pilot centers for training and indoctrinating young Russians will be set up in rural Russian regions and annexed territories, all located far from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Each center will accept 300 enrollees. 

Adm. Sergei Avakyants became commander of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet in May 2012, by decree of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He received many decorations in his 48-year naval career, including the prestigious order "For Service to the Motherland in the Armed Forces of the USSR." In departing his command, he joins other recently-ousted Russian military leaders like Adm. Igor Osipov (former head of the Black Sea Fleet), Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov (former commander of the Ukraine invasion force) and Gen. Sergei Surovikin (another former commander of the Ukraine invasion force).

Adm. Avakyants' newly-created youth military training centers have been created as Russia looks for ways to augment manpower for its war in Ukraine. The centers will train students between the ages of 14 and 35, overlapping the mandatory conscription age range of 18-30. Men up to the age of 65 are eligible to serve in the Russian Army. 

The UK's published intelligence estimates suggest that Russia has lost at least 200,000 personnel in Ukraine since February 2022 (including both killed and injured). Russian forces are believed to be losing several hundred contractors and soldiers per day on the front line in Donbas.