Zelensky wants to fire his top general over peace talks – Seymour Hersh
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky wants to fire his top general, Valery Zaluzhny, over secret talks he has held with the West to end the conflict with Russia, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported, citing his sources. He also suggested that some US officials want to help Zaluzhny in a “power struggle” with Zelensky.
Numerous reports have claimed that the president fell out with the general last autumn after Zaluzhny declared in an interview that Ukraine's much-hyped counteroffensive against Russia had ground to a “stalemate” on the battlefield. The two are also believed to have had several other disagreements regarding military issues.
While Ukrainian officials have denied reports of Zaluzhny’s imminent dismissal, following a spate of reports in Western media, CNN reported on Wednesday that it could happen as early as this week.
In an article published on Hersh's Substack on Friday, he offered a different version of why Zelensky was seeking to boot his top general.
The Ukrainian president’s desire to fire the commander, according to Hersh, stems from “his knowledge that Zaluzhny had continued to participate… in secret talks since last fall with American and other Western officials on how best to achieve a ceasefire and negotiate an end to the war with Russia.”
At the same time, according to the article, some members of the US military and intelligence community support Zaluzhny’s peacemaking overture and want reforms in the Ukrainian government.
Hersh noted that the concept outlined by a number of US officials insists that Ukraine must embark on financial reforms, root out corruption, and improve the economy and infrastructure. However, the journalist continued, citing one official, the real plan is “far more ambitious” as it “envisions sustained support for Zaluzhny and reforms that would lead to the end of the Zelensky regime.”
According to Hersh, for this reason, the talk of firing Zelensky left some proponents of the plan “dismayed.” One official, the journalist said, described the tensions between Zelensky and Zaluzhny as “an old-fashioned power struggle.” However, they continued that “we couldn’t have gotten airborne without a willing and courageous pilot,” referring to the general.
Hersh noted that this plan was developed without the involvement of the White House, which has publicly stated it will support Ukraine “as long as it takes.” However, an unnamed US official told the reporter that Russian President Vladimir Putin is also “looking for a way out” of the conflict.
Moscow has repeatedly said that it is ready for talks with Ukraine, provided it recognizes territorial reality on the ground. Putin also stated last year that for any engagement to occur, Zelensky should cancel his decree prohibiting negotiations with the current Russian leadership.