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5 Mar, 2024 00:54

Kiev mayor blasts Zelensky for firing top general

Replacing Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny was a mistake, Vitaly Klitschko has said
Kiev mayor blasts Zelensky for firing top general

President Vladimir Zelensky was wrong to fire the top general of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valery Zaluzhny, Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko has said. 

Zelensky dismissed Zaluzhny last month, citing the need for “a change in strategy.” General Aleksandr Syrsky was named Zaluzhny’s successor. 

“Removing him was a big mistake. We need to unite around people who have the highest support – like Zaluzhny who has the highest rating in the polls,” Klitschko told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview published on Monday.

“For two years he had successfully defended our country against the largest and most powerful army in the world,” the professional boxer-turned-politician said, adding that the public sees the famed general as the nation’s “most important defender.”

Klitschko, who accused Zelensky of “authoritarianism” in the past, argued that the president “should have explained why made the decision that shocked every Ukrainian” because “many felt confused, desperate.” He added that “the big mistake many are making today is playing politics,” given the ongoing hostilities with Russia. 

Zaluzhny was credited with leading the defense of Kiev during the early stages of the conflict, as well as successful operations in the second half of 2022. He became one of the public faces of Ukraine’s war efforts at home and abroad, not least thanks to his high-profile interviews and the essays he penned for Western media.

The general’s record was later marred by the failed 2023 counteroffensive, during which Ukrainian troops suffered heavy casualties and lost many of the Western-supplied tanks and other hardware. Nevertheless, Zaluzhny remained popular, with an approval rating of over 80% – higher than Zelensky himself – according to a December poll.