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Ukraine Dumps General Zaluzhny for Doubting Zelenskyy's Ultimate Victory over Russia

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a video address and English translation this evening, announcing that he had replaced Gen. Valery Zaluzhny as UAF Commander-in-Chief with Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, who has been serving as commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces since 2019. Zelenskyy said he came to his decision after “dozens of conversations with commanders at various levels,” and claimed that “the year 2024 can be one of successes for Ukraine only pending effective changes in the foundation of our defense, which the Armed Forces of Ukraine embody.” Zelenskyy had stated on Feb. 3 that he could not work with officials who fail to believe in a military victory over Russia.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov had made the formal announcement, using similar cover language: “War is changing and demands change. Combat in 2022, 2023 and 2024 are three different realities; 2024 will bring new changes that we must be prepared for. New approaches, new strategies are needed. Today, the decision on the necessity of changing the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was adopted.”

Zelenskyy had offered Syrsky to take Zaluzhny’s position back on Jan. 29 and Syrsky had turned it down. At the time, strong opposition from Ukraine’s military to Zelenskyy’s dumping of Zaluzhny was reported as a key factor. The last 10 days, reportedly, had involved Zelenskyy and the Office of the President speaking with various military officers, offering promotions if they allowed Zaluzhny and his team to be dumped. In the first 48 hours, U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland—infamous in 2014 for announcing she wanted Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the post-coup prime minister—made a hasty and unscheduled trip into Kiev. It is assumed that she represented a die-hard “bleed-Russia-to-the-end” message, to which Zaluzhny was not sufficiently committed.

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