Ukraine’s Zelensky and the Slow-Motion Dismissal of General Zaluzhny
The soap opera around the dismissal of Ukrainian Commander in Chief Valery Zaluzhny drags on, as President Volodymyr Zelensky appears decided to fire his political nemesis in slow motion.
The rumors of Zaluzhny’s ousting have been going on for months, but they intensified in the last week. After first denying it, reports told that Kiev had given notice to the American allies of this decision.
Now, for the first time, Zelensky admits in public that he will replace General Zaluzhny, poorly disguised as a wide-ranging revamp of the state leadership.
Speaking to Italian broadcaster RAI, Zelensky said he was considering a ‘reset’ to replace several senior officials.
The highly popular commander, Valery Zaluzhny, have been at odds over iwht the President over the strategy of the nearly two-year-old war.
Zelensky said the changes went ‘beyond replacing a single person’ to harness efforts to fight Russian troops.
“‘When I speak of turnover, I have in mind something serious that does not concern a single person, but the direction of the country’s leadership’, Zelensky told Italian state RAI television when asked about Zaluzhny.
[…] ‘It is a question of the people who are to lead Ukraine. A reset is necessary, I am talking about a replacement of a number of state leaders, not only in the army sector. I am reflecting on this replacement. Is a question for the entire leadership of the country’.
To win the war, Zelensky said, ‘We must all push in the same direction, we cannot be discouraged, we must have the right and positive energy, negativity must be left at home. We can’t take on giving-up attitudes’.”
The differences have accentuated after the failed offensive, and also after Zaluzhny wrote an unsanctioned article for the Economist.
“Last week, as speculation over his dismissal intensified, he set out his case in a commentary for broadcaster CNN for new electronic means of warfare.
He also said some Ukrainian institutions were keeping the country from achieving its objectives, including efforts to build an effective fighting force to match Russian numerical superiority through “unpopular measures” like mass mobilization.”
Zaluzhny is admired for defending Kiev at the start of the war, and advances in late 2022 that recaptured territory in Kherson and Kharkov oblasts.
Associated Press reported:
“Zelensky’s comments were his first acknowledgement of Zaluzhny’s possible firing. The potential ouster of the general already has caused an uproar in Ukraine and delighted the Kremlin as the war approaches its second anniversary.
Zaluzhny is widely respected among Ukrainian service members and considered a national hero. He is credited with stalling Russia’s full-scale invasion in the early days of the war and expertly pushing back Moscow’s troops.
Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko criticized the possibility of Zaluzhny’s firing, saying it was due to the general’s leadership that ‘many Ukrainians truly trust the armed forces’.”
At a moment when Ukraine desperately needs military aid from the West, Zaluzhny’s dismissal could fuel uncertainty among Western allies.
One thing Zelensky may want to do is have the General assume some honorable position, so as to not throw him right away into an opposition stance.
In fact, reports have arisen that Zaluzhny agreed to leave his post to become ambassador to the UK, according to Rada deputy Yevgeny Shevchenko.
Ukraine Watch reported:
“According to him, the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine may be dismissed in the coming days. In addition, he noted that Ukrainian ex-politicians who are sent as ambassadors never come back.
Earlier, the Ukrainian media said that along with Valery Zaluzhny, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Sergei Shaptala, could be dismissed. The rest of those responsible for the failure of the counter-offensive are unlikely to be provided with a cold English office.”
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