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6 Feb, 2024 10:57

Zelensky to fire his top general’s deputies – MP

The Commander-in-Chief of Kiev’s Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny will reportedly be replaced this week
Zelensky to fire his top general’s deputies – MP

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky reportedly plans to fire his top general Valery Zaluzhny in the next few days and will likely also dismiss all of the commander’s deputies, a member of the country’s parliament, the Rada, claimed in a Telegram post on Tuesday.

The expected firing of Zaluzhny was initially reported last week by several media outlets. However, due to a leak to the press, Zelensky appears to have postponed the decision. Nevertheless, he admitted on Sunday that he would be replacing his top commander and conducting a “serious” overhaul of the country’s leadership.

According to MP Alexey Goncharenko, in tandem with Zaluzhny’s sacking, the president intends to fire all of the general’s deputies as well, including Evgeny Moysyuk, Nikolay Balan and Mikhail Zabrodsky.

Goncharenko denounced any attempts to diminish Zaluzhny’s achievements and called the prospect of his firing a “complete disgrace” for Zelensky, adding that it was “wrong” to “spin up negativity, play political games and raise tensions in society during a war.” 

While Zelensky has not yet made it clear when Zaluzhny would be let go, another Rada MP, Evgeny Shevchenko, has suggested that the commander will be relieved of his position sometime this week. He will then reportedly travel to the UK to serve as Kiev’s ambassador, Shevchenko said, noting that such a position would essentially be a “political pension” for the general.

Zaluzhny’s firing comes after months of strained relations with the Ukrainian president. The two fell out over their respective assessments of the battlefield situation, following Kiev’s failed summer counteroffensive. In an article for The Economist in November, Zaluzhny described the situation on the ground as a “stalemate” while Zelensky vehemently rejected that depiction.

In an interview with Italy’s RAI TG1 news channel on Sunday, however, Zelensky appeared to have changed his tune and admitted that there were issues on the front line. In order to solve them, he said that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the country’s leadership, which would not be focused on replacing just a single person, apparently referring to Zaluzhny.

The top Ukrainian commander, meanwhile, has reportedly told the president, as per the Washington Post, that no amount of leadership changes would result in any rapid improvements on the battlefield, insisting that Kiev’s forces needed more recruits to gain an advantage. He also stressed that Ukraine needs to prepare for a rise in the rate of personnel losses in 2024.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Kiev lost more than 23,000 soldiers in January. In December, the ministry estimated that since the start of the conflict, over 383,000 of Ukraine’s troops had been killed or wounded.