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11 Jan, 2024 07:53

US concerned about Zelensky’s split with top general – Bloomberg

Washington wants Kiev to “sharpen” its plan for fighting Russia, sources told the agency
US concerned about Zelensky’s split with top general – Bloomberg

The US is worried that the rift between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, is hampering Kiev’s military efforts, Bloomberg has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Biden administration wants Ukraine to “sharpen” its plan for fighting Russia in 2024, the agency said in the article on Thursday.

However, Washington is concerned that “differences” between Zelensky and Zaluzhny “are slowing efforts to crystallize a new strategy,” the sources said.

According to one of Bloomberg’s interlocutors, the US must clearly understand Kiev’s plans to determine “how it can best align its support to help Ukraine defend itself in the coming year.”

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is likely to raise the issue with Zelensky on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the people said. Earlier this week, WEF president Borge Brende announced that the Ukrainian leader will attend the high-profile event, scheduled to take place between January 15 and 19.

Bloomberg said that “tensions” between Zelensky and Zaluzhny emerged in November when the president was angered by the general describing the situation on the battlefield with Russia as a stalemate in his interview with The Economist. Zaluzhny later retracted his comments, but “stresses have remained despite official assertions the leadership is unified,” it insisted.

They’re now also “at odds” over the mobilization, which is needed to replenish the ranks of the Ukrainian military “where losses have been heavy,” the agency said. The report explained that Zelensky has been delaying the bill that would lower the conscription age that Zaluzhny is pushing for.

Last month, Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper reported that Zelensky has been giving orders to the military bypassing the commander-in-chief, with Zaluzhny sometimes only learning about what the armed forces are doing from his subordinates. According to the sources, the two have been at loggerheads for months, but Kiev’s failed counteroffensive has worsened the tensions.

In December, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that thwarting Ukraine’s NATO-backed counteroffensive was the main goal achieved by the Russian military in 2023.

In recent weeks, the Russian military has been “constantly taking more advantageous positions and expanding territories under its control in all directions” on the frontline, according to the minister.

On Tuesday, Shoigu announced that, according to Moscow’s estimations, Kiev’s losses last year exceeded 215,000 troops and 28,000 units of heavy weaponry.