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16 Feb, 2024 18:27

Ukrainians don’t trust their new commander-in-chief – poll

A newly released study has found that General Aleksandr Syrsky enjoys far less public confidence than his predecessor
Ukrainians don’t trust their new commander-in-chief – poll

A newly released Ukrainian poll has revealed declining public confidence in the country’s civilian and military leadership after President Vladimir Zelensky sacked the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) poll, released on Thursday, showed that just 40% of Ukrainian adults trust General Alexander Syrsky, who took the helm last week. At the same time, 56% of respondents either do not trust him or do not know who he is, with the remaining 4% undecided.

By comparison, 94% of Ukrainians trust Syrsky’s predecessor, General Valery Zaluzhny, the poll found. The survey was conducted earlier this month and was more than 70% complete when Zaluzhny’s long-rumored ouster was made official. With media reports suggesting that Zelensky was poised to fire his top general, trust in Zaluzhny actually increased, rising from 92% when the same poll was conducted in December.

Public confidence in Zelensky has waned amid the leadership shakeup and deteriorating conditions on the battlefield. The latest KIIS survey found that 64% of Ukrainians trust their president, down from 77% in December and 90% a few months after the conflict with Russia began in February 2022. Among those interviewed after Zaluzhny was replaced, Zelensky’s approval was 60%, compared to 65% among respondents who were polled before the announcement.

KIIS also found that only 11% of Ukrainians believe the country’s affairs are “definitely” developing in the correct way. Overall, 44% see their nation as heading either “definitely” or “rather” in the right direction, down from 60% last October and 68% in May 2022.

The polling group’s executive director, Anton Grushetsky, attributed declining public confidence in Ukraine’s leadership to a combination of factors, including Zaluzhny’s exit, struggles to secure more foreign military aid, continuing corruption scandals, and a “difficult situation at the front.” He added, “It should be taken into account that the survey took place in a very hot period, so it will be possible to talk about the crystallization of a certain attitude a little later, when the emotions of all participants have cooled down.”

Critics of Zelensky, such as former Verkhovna Rada deputy Vladimir Oleinik, have suggested that the president replaced Zaluzhny with Syrsky because he did not want a potential political rival leading the troops. Zaluzhny had public approval of 82% in December, exceeding Zelensky’s rating of 72%, according to a poll conducted by online news portal Strana.ua.