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9 Feb, 2024 11:50

Kremlin comments on change of military command in Kiev

The replacement of Ukraine’s top general will not affect Russia’s campaign, spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said
Kremlin comments on change of military command in Kiev

Russia does not expect any significant impact on its military campaign against Ukraine after Kiev replaced its top commander, the Kremlin has said. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky fired Valery Zaluzhny and appointed Aleksandr Syrsky in his place on Thursday.

The reshuffle in Ukraine came a week after reports of Zaluzhny’s imminent dismissal appeared in the national press. Explaining the move, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov claimed his country needs “new approaches [and] new strategies” in the conflict with Russia.

Asked about the change during a briefing on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s campaign against Ukraine will not be affected, and that Moscow will continue until its objectives are achieved.

Media reports claiming there was entrenched antagonism between Zelensky’s office and Zaluzhny have been circulating for months. The president’s team was reportedly envious of the general’s popularity, which opinion polls have suggested is higher than that of the president. The two officials also allegedly clashed over frontline tactics and whether political considerations should take precedence on the battlefield.

Syrsky served as commander of the Ukrainian ground forces before assuming his new post. Critics have described him as a ‘yes-man’, citing his role in the battle for Artyomovsk (known in Ukraine as Bakhmut), which Russian forces captured last May. Zelensky had declared the city a “fortress” and reportedly insisted on defending it at all costs, even as Western advisers told him to cut his losses and save troops for a planned counteroffensive.

The subsequent Ukrainian operation was launched in early June but failed to produce any significant territorial gains, despite the supply of Western heavy weapons, including main battle tanks. Russia had estimated Kiev’s losses in the counteroffensive at over 90,000 by late October.