Zelensky military purge to extend beyond top general – media
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is reportedly considering letting go not only of Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, but also of the Chief of the General Staff, according to the news outlet Ukrainskaya Pravda.
The report comes after Zelensky admitted last week that he intends to fire the top commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The two have had a major falling out following Kiev’s failed summer counteroffensive. Zaluzhny has described the battlefield situation as a “stalemate,” while Zelensky has vehemently rejected this assessment, especially in light of waning support from Kiev’s Western backers.
In an interview with Italy’s RAI TG1 news channel on Sunday, Zelensky announced that he is planning a “serious” overhaul of the country’s leadership, noting that these changes will not be “about a single person.” He did not, however, list any specific names.
Citing sources within the Ukrainian government, Ukrainskaya Pravda reported on Monday that Zaluzhny may indeed not be the only one getting canned amid Zelensky’s purge and suggested that Sergey Shaptala, who currently serves as the Chief of the General Staff, will also be leaving his position as early as this week.
“[The fate of] everyone else has not yet been decided,” the source told the outlet.
Rumors of Shapatala’s resignation appear to be partially confirmed by a post from Zaluzhny, who posted a picture with his colleague on Monday, wishing him a happy birthday and writing: “It will still be difficult for us, but we will never be ashamed.”
As for Zaluzhny himself, it is currently unclear when he will leave his post and what position he may take in the future. According to multiple media reports, he was set to be dismissed last week. However, after the information about his firing was leaked to the press, Zelensky appeared to have postponed the decision.
According to Rada MP Evgeny Shevchenko, Zaluzhny could nevertheless potentially vacate his position within the next few days. That’s after he reportedly agreed to become the country’s ambassador to the UK. Shevchenko noted that such a position is essentially a “political pension.”
It is unclear who could potentially replace Ukraine’s top military commander, but, according to the Washington Post, Zaluzhny believes no change in leadership would result in any rapid improvements on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry has stated that its forces currently hold the “strategic initiative along the entire line of contact.” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu says Kiev lost more than 23,000 troops last month. In December, the ministry estimated that since the start of the conflict, over 383,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded.