Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sacked Vladislav Surkov, one of his key advisers and the architect of Moscow's Ukraine policy. Vladislav Surkov was replaced by Dmitry Kozak, a 61-year-old veteran official and a close ally of Putin. The dismissal of Surkov was announced on the official website of Kremlin but there was no information on what his future role would be. Surkov was one of the major players in Russia's policy towards Ukraine and was credited for overseeing the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Surkov also supported Russian speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine who have carved out 'people's republics' in the former Soviet country. Surkov saw his influence diminishing in 2011 when he was moved to the government as deputy prime minister. However, in 2013 Surkov returned to Kremlin and was made the head of Ukraine policy and other post-Soviet countries.
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, Dmitry Kozak is now the new head of office when it comes to dealing with Ukraine. As per reports, Dmitry Kozak was born in Soviet Ukraine and is a lawyer by education. Kozak has also served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia from 2008 to 2020.
Russia and Ukraine had good relations since the latter's independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, a series of military actions began after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. Reportedly, Russia's interest in Crimea is because of the Black Sea and its resources. Media reports suggest that Moscow had a fleet of the Russian Navy in the Black sea that Ukraine was threatening to remove which led to the annexation of Crimea. The black sea gives an important geopolitical advantage to Russia as it opens to the strategically important Mediterranean sea.