MOSCOW, June 30 (UPI) -- Russia's Baltic Fleet of warships lost its two top leaders in a sweeping dismissal of officers by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Adm. Viktor Kravchuk, commander of the Baltic Fleet, and the Fleet's chief of staff, Sergei Popov, were among 50 high-ranking naval leaders dismissed from their positions after the fleet was subjected to a month-long inspection that ended June 10. The inspection noted incompetence, deficiencies in training and misinformation regarding the state of the fleet.
"The defense minister and members of the Defense Ministry collegium expressed sharp and principled criticism of the activity of officials for serious shortcomings revealed in their work. On the results of an inspection and discussion at the collegium meeting, the commander of the Baltic Fleet, the Fleet's chief of staff, as well as a number of other officials were dismissed by the defense minister for serious combat training deficiencies, as well as distortion of the real state of affairs in their reports," the Defense Ministry's press service said Wednesday.
Kravchuk was replaced by Adm. Sergey Yeliseyev, a former Ukrainian Navy admiral who joined the Russian military during Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, the news website Ukraine Today reported, citing the Russian news website Fontanka.ru. Yeliseyev was the only high-ranking naval officer to maintain his position in the purge announced Wednesday.
Yeliseyev was formerly deputy chief of Ukraine's navy, and remains a wanted man in Ukraine, accused of treason, desertion and other crimes.