Aleksandr Dvornikov

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Aleksandr Dvornikov
Командующий войсками Южного военного округа Герой РФ Генерал армии Дворников А.В.jpg
Army General Dvornikov in 2021
Native name
Александр Владимирович Дворников
Nickname(s)Butcher of Syria[3]
Born (1961-08-22) 22 August 1961 (age 61)
Ussuriysk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Army
 Russian Ground Forces
Years of service1978–present
RankArmy general
Commands held19th Motor Rifle Division
5th Red Banner Army
Central Military District (9 November – 24 December 2012; interim)
Russian Armed Forces in Syria
Southern Military District
Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine[4]
Battles/warsSecond Chechen War
Russian military intervention in Syria
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
AwardsЗолотая звезда Героя России.svg
Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" 4th class
Order of Courage
Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR 3rd class
Order of Military Merit
Medal of the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" 2nd class

Aleksandr Vladimirovich Dvornikov (Russian: Александр Владимирович Дворников; born 22 August 1961) is a Russian Ground Forces army general who commanded the Russian military intervention in Syria and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After joining the Soviet Army in 1978, Dvornikov rose through the ranks of the Soviet and then Russian army over a period of thirty years. In 2015, he became commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria during the Russian military intervention there. At that time he cemented a reputation for the harsh conduct of his military campaigns as those in Chechnya before.[5][6]

In April 2022, Dvornikov was placed in charge of military operations during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, until he was replaced with Army general Sergei Surovikin on 8 October 2022.[7]

Early life and Soviet military career[edit]

Dvornikov was born on 22 August 1961 in Ussuriysk. He graduated from the Ussuriysk Suvorov Military School in 1978 and joined the Soviet Army. Dvornikov received further education at the Moscow High Command Training School, graduating in 1982.[8] From 1982, he served in the Far Eastern Military District as a platoon and then company commander, and as a battalion chief of staff. In 1991, Dvornikov graduated from the Frunze Military Academy. He became a deputy battalion commander in the Western Group of Forces.[8]

Russian military career[edit]

Career in the Russian Ground Forces[edit]

Between 1992 and 1994, Dvornikov commanded the 154th Separate Motor Rifle Battalion of the 6th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. In 1995, he became chief of staff and deputy commander of the 10th Guards Tank Division's 248th Motor Rifle Regiment. Dvornikov became regimental commander in 1996. On 20 January 1996, he was awarded the Order of Military Merit. On 2 February 1996, he was awarded the Order of Courage.[8][9]

In 1997, he transferred to command the 1st Guards Motor Rifle Regiment of the 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division in the Moscow Military District. Between 2000 and 2003 he was chief of staff and then commander of the 19th Motor Rifle Division[10] in the North Caucasus Military District. On 6 May 2000, he was awarded the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" 4th class with swords. Dvornikov graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff in 2005.[8][9]

Dvornikov (2nd from the left), Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu alongside other Russian advisors at Khmeimim Air Base, June 2016.
Dvornikov with Armenian Defence Minister David Tonoyan, February 2019.

In 2005, Dvornikov became deputy commander and chief of staff of the 36th Army in the Siberian Military District. In 2008, he took command of the 5th Red Banner Army. Dvornikov became deputy commander of the Eastern Military District in 2011. From May 2012 to June 2016, he served as chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Central Military District. Between November and December 2012, he was acting commander of the district.[11]

On 13 December 2012, Dvornikov became a lieutenant general. On 13 December 2014, he was promoted to colonel general.[citation needed]

Syrian civil war[edit]

In September 2015, Dvornikov became the first commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria during the Russian military intervention in Syria. On 17 March 2016, he was awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation for his leadership.[11]

In July 2016, Dvornikov became the Southern Military District's acting commander. He was confirmed in the position on 20 September 2016.[8][12]

By a decree from President Putin, Dvornikov was promoted to the rank of army general on 23 June 2020.[13]


In March 2019, the European Union enacted sanctions on him due to his role in the Kerch Strait incident.[citation needed]

Sanctioned by the UK government in 2019 in relation to Russo-Ukrainian War.[14]

Russian invasion of Ukraine[edit]

On 10 April 2022, Dvornikov was placed in complete charge of military operations during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[4][15] Before his appointment, there had not been a single military leader for all Russian forces; he had been one of several in charge of various fronts.[4]

On 3 June 2022 it was reported by the open-source intelligence group Conflict Intelligence Team, citing Russian soldiers, that Dvornikov had been replaced by Colonel General Gennady Zhidko in command of the invasion.[16] However, on 5 June Ukrainian governor of Luhansk Oblast Serhiy Haidai said Dvornikov was still in command and had been given until 10 June by his superiors to complete the Battle of Severodonetsk.[17]

On 25 June 2022, it was again reported that Dvornikov had been dismissed from his post.[18]

On 8 October 2022, the Russian Defence Ministry named Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine without naming who Surovikin was replacing.[7]

Military reputation[edit]

Dvornikov's military reputation is often cited in the international press for the harsh conduct of his military campaigns, particularly in Chechnya and Syria. He has been accused of having pursued scorched earth tactics. Retired US Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis spoke in an interview of what he said was a known epiphet of Dvornikov, "Butcher of Syria".[5][6]

However, the Institute for the Study of War has noted that although Dvornikov's tenure was marked by large numbers of civilian deaths, it was not especially bloody compared to the operation as a whole, as the Russian military targeted Syrian civilians and critical infrastructure throughout its intervention in Syria.[19] According to an investigation by Cathrin Schaer and Emad Hassan published in the German state-funded media Deutsche Welle, statistics also show that Dvornikov did not open up a new and more violent chapter in the Syrian war.[20][19]


  1. ^ Schaer, Cathrin; Hassan, Emad (12 April 2022). "Does Russian commander in Ukraine deserve his 'bloody' reputation?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  2. ^ Zoll, Patrick (14 April 2022). "Russia's «Butcher of Syria» chosen to lead attack on Ukraine". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  3. ^ [1][2]
  4. ^ a b c Berger, Miriam; Pietsch, Bryan (10 April 2022). "What to know about Russia's new top commander in Ukraine". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b Madani, Doha; Kube, Courtney; Smith, Alexander (10 April 2022). "Russia appoints general with cruel history to oversee Ukraine offensive". NBC News. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b Wu, David (11 April 2022). "White House officials claim Russia has chosen General Alexander Dvornikov to head Ukraine as locals return to Kyiv". Sky News. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Russia names air force general to lead its forces in Ukraine". 8 October 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Aleksandr Dvornikov". Герои страны ("Heroes of the Country") (in Russian).
  9. ^ a b Pavlenko, Maxim (22 September 2016). "Кавказ на осадном положении" [Caucasus in state of change]. Kavpolit (in Russian). Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  10. ^ Gavrilov, Yuri (6 May 2003). "Остановите Дворникова!" [Stop Dvornikov!]. Moskovskiye Komsomolets (in Russian). Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Награждённые государственными наградами Российской Федерации" [Those awarded state awards of the Russian Federation] (in Russian). President of Russia. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  12. ^ Milenin, Andrei (20 September 2016). "Александр Дворников назначен командующим войсками ЮВО" [Aleksandr Dvornikov appointed commander of the Southern Military District]. Isvestia (in Russian). Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 23.06.2020 № 413 "О присвоении воинского звания Дворникову А.В."".
  15. ^ Burns, Robert; Yen, Hope (10 April 2022). "US doubts new Russian war chief can end Moscow's floundering". AP News. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  16. ^ "General Dvornikov 'no longer in command' of Russian Army in Ukraine". The New Voice of Ukraine. 3 June 2022.
  17. ^ "Kremlin orders army commander Dvornikov to take Severodonetsk by June 10 — regional governor". The New Voice of Ukraine. 5 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Butcher of Aleppo' sacked as Vladimir Putin shakes up Russian top command again". The Telegraph. 25 June 2022.
  19. ^ a b Clark, Mason; Hird, Karolina; Barros, George (11 April 2022). "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 11". Institute For the Study of War. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Is new Russian commander really 'bloody'?". Deutsche Welle. 12 April 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2022.