Russian Oligarchs

Zelenskyy signals shakeup of Ukraine’s military leadership is imminent

The possibility that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is considering firing the nation’s top military officer as part of a larger leadership change has alarmed the country that is fighting a war to stop Russia’s invasion and alarmed Ukraine’s Western allies.

In a late-Sunday interview with the Italian broadcaster RAI TV, Zelenskyy stated that he was considering the removal of the widely-liked commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi. He declared that he was thinking about making the change to guarantee that the nation is run by people who are “convinced of victory” over Russia.

Zelenskyy declared, “A reset, a new beginning is necessary.” The examination is “not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership.”

“I’m thinking about this replacement, but you can’t say here we replaced a single person,” said Zelenskyy. “By this, I mean changing several state leaders, not just those in the military or another specific sector. We must all push in the same direction and be confident in our victory if we want to succeed. We must not give up; let down our guard. We need to be in the proper frame of mind.

Zelenskyy first acknowledged that Zaluzhnyi might be fired in his remarks. As the war nears its second anniversary, the possibility of the general’s removal has already sparked uproar in Ukraine and delighted the Kremlin.

Among Ukrainian service members, Zaluzhnyi is revered and regarded as a national hero. He is recognized for having skillfully pushed back Moscow’s forces and halted Russia’s full-scale invasion in the early stages of the conflict.

Zaluzhnyi’s potential dismissal was criticized by Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko, who stated that “many Ukrainians truly trust the armed forces” as a result of the general’s leadership.

Klitschko stated on social media that “politics might prevail over reason and country’s interests” at this particular moment. Zelenskyy’s critics include the mayor of the capital city of Ukraine. In response, the presidency charged that Klitschko’s office was inefficient.

It’s unclear who Zaluzhnyi might replace and whether the Ukrainian military and foreign defense chiefs would regard him with the same degree of deference. At a crucial juncture in the war, firing him runs the risk of lowering morale.

Zelenskyy requested Zaluzhnyi’s resignation last week, but the general reportedly refused, according to reports in Western and Ukrainian media. Zaluzhnyi has refrained from publicly addressing the reports.

Since a much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, launched in June with the assistance of a variety of Western weapons, failed to produce significant territory gains in Russian-occupied areas, disappointing allies, tensions between him and the president have been rising.

Russian forces are on the attack, launching frequent attacks, while Ukraine is currently struggling with a manpower and ammunition shortage. A strike over the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Monday afternoon resulted in four fatalities and at least one injury, according to the head of the local military administration.

One of the points of contention between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi has reportedly been the necessity of a widespread mobilization to increase the number of Ukrainian troops.

At the end of the previous year, Zelenskyy announced that he had denied the military’s request to mobilize up to 500,000 people because he needed more information about the logistics of the mobilization, including how it would be funded.

When the general admitted that the fighting with Russia had come to a standstill in an interview with The Economist, a rift between Zaluzhnyi and Zelenskyy first surfaced in the fall. The president vehemently refuted that assertion.

Zaluzhnyi, for his part, has written two essays outlining his strategy for helping Ukraine win the war. He stated in his writings that air superiority, increasing its effectiveness in opposing enemy artillery, accumulating reserves, and enhancing electronic warfare capabilities were all vital for Ukraine.

The Russian military is pressing Ukraine in many directions along the 1,500-kilometer (900-mile) frontline, necessitating more military support from the West. However, an aid package has been blocked by the US Congress. The dismissal of Zaluzhnyi might cause unease among Western allies.

The possibility has pleased Russia, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who also said that the discussion surrounding Zaluzhnyi’s firing revealed divisions within the Ukrainian leadership.

According to a Monday article in the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, Zelenskyy was also thinking about firing General Staff Chief Serhii Shaptala.

On Monday, Zaluzhnyi wished Shaptala a happy birthday and shared a photo of the two of them on Facebook.

“It will still be very difficult for us, but we will never be ashamed,” wrote Zaluzhnyi.

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