Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is reportedly set to fire the army chief, Valery Zaluzhny, following a series of tensions between the two. Although no formal announcement has been made yet, sources suggest that a presidential decree will be issued by the end of the week.
The strained relationship between Zelensky and Zaluzhny is said to have begun after the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive last year. The army chief’s description of the ongoing war with Russia as a stalemate in an interview with The Economist in November further deteriorated the situation.
Initially, the president’s office denied rumors of Zaluzhny’s dismissal. However, it has been confirmed by sources that Zaluzhny was informed of his termination during a meeting with the president and Defense Minister on Monday. Interestingly, Zaluzhny declined an alternative position offered by Zelensky, leading to his removal from his current post.
As for potential successors to the army chief position, two names have emerged as front-runners. Kyrylo Budanov, the current head of Defense Intelligence Directorate, and Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces, are both being considered for the role.
Despite the failure of the counteroffensive, Zaluzhny remains popular among Ukrainians. In fact, a recent poll indicates that 88% of the population supports him, compared to Zelensky’s approval rating of 62%.
To provide some context, Ukraine’s counteroffensive aimed to push Russian forces back from the territories they have occupied since 2022. However, the gains achieved during the operation were modest, leading to a call from the armed forces for a large mobilization effort to recruit new conscripts.
In conclusion, the tensions between President Zelensky and army chief Valery Zaluzhny have reportedly resulted in the firing of the latter. Although no official announcement has been made, a presidential decree is expected to be issued soon. The failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and Zaluzhny’s public remarks about the stalemate in the war with Russia have strained their relationship. As Ukraine navigates these developments, the appointment of a new army chief will be crucial for the country’s security and military strategy moving forward.