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3 Feb, 2024 06:50

Zelensky tells US he will fire his top general – WaPo

The rift between the Ukrainian president and Valery Zaluzhny has grown since last summer’s failed counteroffensive against Russia
Zelensky tells US he will fire his top general – WaPo

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s administration has informed the White House that the decision has been made to fire the head of the army, General Valery Zaluzhny, the Washington Post claimed on Friday.

A major rift between the two became public following Ukraine’s failed summer counteroffensive, and amid growing reluctance in the West to continue funding Kiev’s war efforts.

White House officials accepted the president’s decision, neither supporting nor opposing it, two of the newspaper’s sources said.

The move to inform Washington of Zelensky’s decision ahead of any formal decree or announcements to the media highlights the position of the US as Ukraine’s most powerful military and political sponsor. Washington has provided Kiev with more than $77 billion in aid, more than 60% of which is in military assistance, according to statistics from Germany’s Kiel Institute.

Meanwhile, the EU agreed on a €50 billion ($54 billion) aid package on Thursday after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lifted his veto under pressure from the bloc’s other 26 members. A similar $61 billion package is still stalled in the US Congress.

Earlier this week, multiple media outlets reported that Zelensky was about to oust his top general. Several publications in recent months have claimed that the relationship between Zelensky and Zaluzhny has soured since November, when the general described the situation on the front lines as a “stalemate” in an article for The Economist.

Zelensky informed Zaluzhny of his impending dismissal on Monday, to which the general reportedly replied that rapid improvement on the battlefield is not likely, no matter who takes his place. The president had previously come into conflict with his top general over the issue of mobilization, when Zaluzhny stated that around 500,000 more troops need to be conscripted to ensure parity with Russia’s forces, which Zelensky reportedly opposed. Compounding the disagreements, according to the Washington Post, is the president’s suspicion of the general’s political ambitions.

Russian forces have been making advances along the front line amid intense fighting in multiple locations in the region of Donetsk, the Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.

Russia holds “the strategic initiative along the entire line of contact,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting on Friday. He estimated the losses inflicted on Ukrainian troops at more than 23,000 for January. Since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022, more than 383,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded, the Defense Ministry estimated in December.