Zelensky was warned of riots if he sacked top general – media
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has yet to sack the country’s commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny because the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) warned him that such a move could lead to unrest, sources told Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.
The paper reported on Wednesday that it had been planned to make Zaluzhny’s dismissal public on Friday, February 2, but the move was delayed because of the advice coming from the SBU.
According to sources, the agency told its staff to be ready for riots in the Ukrainian capital Kiev if the general, who remains popular with both the public and soldiers, were removed.
The SBU also contacted some of the military commanders, asking them to keep an eye on their troops and make sure none of them leave their positions, they added.
Reports of tensions between Zelensky and Zaluzhny have been circulating for months, with the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive last year believed to have worsened relations.
In mid-January, Bloomberg reported that the falling out between the pair happened after the president was angered by the general describing the situation on the battlefield with Russia as “a stalemate.” Zaluzhny later retracted his comments, but “stresses have remained despite official assertions that the leadership is unified,” the newspaper said.
Rumors that the commander-in-chief was about to be removed emerged in late January, coming from both military and political sources. However, they were denied by both the president’s office and the defense ministry.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Zelensky’s administration had informed the White House that the decision had been made to dismiss Zaluzhny. The Biden administration officials accepted the move, neither supporting nor opposing it, the newspaper’s sources said.
Zelensky publicly addressed the situation for the first time in an interview with Italy’s RAI TG1 news channel on Saturday, saying that he’s planning “a replacement of a series of state leaders, not just in a single sector like the military.” According to the president, a “reset” is needed because “if we want to win, we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory.”
Earlier this week, former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko suggested that Zaluzhny should be left in charge of the military. And if Zelensky wants a “reset,” then he should start with himself and other officials in his government, Poroshenko added.