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9 Feb, 2024 19:23

Ukraine’s top general fired for disobeying US – Politico

Valery Zaluzhny has been blamed for the failure of the 2023 summer counteroffensive
Ukraine’s top general fired for disobeying US – Politico

General Valery Zaluzhny was dismissed as the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces partly because he had clashed with the Pentagon about how to conduct the counteroffensive against Russia last summer, Politico EU reported on Friday.

President Vladimir Zelensky sacked Zaluzhny on Thursday, even as the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) warned the move could trigger riots or a mutiny. General Aleksandr Syrsky has since been announced as Zaluzhny’s replacement.

Officially, the US has neither supported nor opposed Zaluzhny’s firing, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan telling the media last weekend that “we’re just not going to get embroiled in that particular decision.”

Unofficially, Zaluzhny was blamed for the Ukrainian disagreements with the Pentagon during the 2023 counteroffensive, a source who has “advised the White House on military matters” told Politico. 

British and American generals helped plan and wargame Ukraine’s big offensive push to the Azov Sea, but Zaluzhny “tossed aside” the plan after just four days of brutal fighting and opted for tactics the Ukrainians were more familiar with, according to a Washington Post postmortem published in December.

The anonymous adviser told Politico that the Ukrainians “just weren’t interested in US advice, and they generally concluded that we have nothing to offer them advice-wise,” noting that many of the Pentagon’s suggestions ended up “tone-deaf” as the Americans had no experience in this kind of warfare.

While Zaluzhny bore the brunt of the blame for this, the US “kept yelling at the wrong person,” Politico’s source claimed, because he was “hamstrung by Zelensky” and the president had the final say on military matters. 

The much-heralded offensive resulted in “staggering manpower losses,” according to Politico, while failing to achieve any of its objectives. Since then, disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhny have gone public. The leader also suspected the general of wanting to run for president, to the point where his sacking was seen as a political necessity, one Ukrainian analyst told the outlet.

Syrsky, who is widely unpopular in the military, is reportedly seen as politically safe as he is an ethnic Russian with no political ambitions.

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