Zelensky fired Ukraine’s top military official in significant reorganization after almost two years of conflict

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Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, has declared the removal of the country’s highest-ranking officer, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. This military shakeup is the largest since Russia’s all-out invasion almost two years ago. The president’s decision comes after conflicts between Zelensky and his widely admired military leader due to the unsuccessful Ukraine counterattack. Additionally, Ukraine is dealing with a new wave of Russian attacks, as well as a lack of resources and the delay of US assistance by Congress. Zelensky mentioned in a message on Telegram, prior to the official announcement, that he had a meeting with Zaluzhnyi to talk about the necessary updates for Ukraine’s Armed Forces.


Zelensky expressed that the present moment calls for a revival to occur. The successor of Zaluzhnyi will be Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has been fulfilling the role of the Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces since 2019.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has been the Commander of the Ukrainian Land Forces since 2019, will take over as Zaluzhnyi’s successor. Zaluzhnyi mentioned on his Telegram channel on Thursday that the objectives for 2022 differ from those in 2024.

Accordingly, it is imperative for everyone to modify their approach and acclimatize to the evolving circumstances. We have recently had a meeting with the highest-ranking military leader. It was a crucial and grave discussion. It has been determined that a shift in our methodologies and tactics is necessary.

Reports of Zaluzhnyi’s termination started circulating in Kyiv last week following his summons to a meeting at the presidential office, during which he was informed by two well-informed sources that he was being relieved of his duties, according to CNN.

The speculations were dismissed by Zelensky’s administration at first, but the decision was later verified on Thursday. Zaluzhnyi, who was designated as the head of the military by Zelensky in July 2021, was extended a fresh role by the president, but declined it, as per an authoritative insider. It still remains uncertain if Zaluzhnyi has made a determination to maintain his association with the armed forces in any capacity.

The discord between the two individuals had been quietly building up for several months but seemed to intensify towards the conclusion of the previous year, subsequent to Zaluzhnyi’s proclamation in a lengthy article and interview in The Economist periodical in November that the war had reached a state of impasse.

A political gamble for Zelensky

When Russia initiated its incursion in February 2022, numerous supporters of Ukraine were concerned that Kyiv would succumb within a short span of days, and the remaining regions of the nation would inevitably succumb in a matter of weeks. However, under Zaluzhnyi’s command, the Ukrainian military successfully expelled Moscow’s troops from the capital and subsequently recaptured significant portions of the southern and eastern regions that had been occupied by Russia during the initial stages of the conflict.

Ukraine aimed to push Moscow’s troops further back in 2023, but achieving victory on the battlefield proved challenging.

Commenced in June last year, Ukraine initiated a military operation with the specific objective of advancing southwards towards the Sea of Azov, thereby strategically dividing Russia’s troops and interrupting its land connection to Crimea.

However, the progress made by Ukraine was only limited. The military units made an effort to progress from Orikhiv towards Tokmak, but their advancement was limited to Robotyne, which lies just over 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) to the south. Russia continues to control approximately 20% of Ukraine’s landmass.

Ever since that time, Ukraine has been compelled to adopt a defensive position once again due to a wave of Russian attacks across a significant portion of the battle lines. An escalated level of combat has been observed in the northeast region of Kharkiv and in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. In a recent development, Russia has once again commenced its airborne attacks on various urban areas throughout the nation. Furthermore, Ukraine has issued a cautionary statement, expressing concern over the potential vulnerability of its aerial defense systems to being overpowered.

The dismissal of Zaluzhnyi presents a political risk for Zelensky. In spite of the lack of success of Ukraine’s retaliatory maneuver, the recently resigned military commander continues to be widely admired as one of the most esteemed figures in the nation. A survey conducted by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology unveiled that a significant majority of 88% of Ukrainian citizens expressed their endorsement towards the military leader. The approval rating of Zelensky, while still strong, displayed a notable decrease at 62%.

For quite some time, experts have speculated about the potential emergence of Zaluzhnyi as a future political competitor to Zelensky. However, the military officer has shown little interest in pursuing a political career up until now.

For a considerable duration, analysts have pondered the potential rise of Zaluzhnyi as a prospective political rival to Zelensky. Nevertheless, the military official has displayed scant inclination towards embarking on a political trajectory thus far.

According to Zaluzhnyi, the key for Ukraine’s military to prevent getting involved in a protracted conflict with fixed and heavily fortified battle lines is to excel in unmanned weapons systems, commonly known as drones. He emphasized that these technological marvels are the primary catalyst for the current war.

A 59-year-old man named Syrskyi will take over his position. Syrskyi started his military career in Moscow during the final years of the Soviet Union.

After Ukraine gained independence in 1991, he progressed within the Ukrainian military, achieving the rank of Major General in 2009. He had a leading part in Ukraine’s struggle against the intruders from Russia in the eastern Donbas area in the years 2014 and 2015.

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