A day after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dumped the popular Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, he replaced the rest of Zaluzhny’s team. On Feb. 9, the Chief of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Force, Lt Gen. Serhii Shaptala, was replaced by Maj. Gen. Anatolii Barhylevych. Zelenskyy explained that the latter “understands the tasks of this war and Ukraine’s goals.” (Only four months ago, Barhylevych had been promoted to Commander of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces.) Further, new deputies for the Commander-in-Chief were named and new Deputy Chiefs of the General Staff have been chosen. Zelenskyy explained a week ago that he needed officials who believe in his mission to militarily defeat Russia.
Mykhailo Podolyak, the advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, indicated that the new leadership of Ukraine’s Armed Forces (UAF) need to get more troops to the frontline. As quoted by the Feb. 9 Ukrainska Pravda, he explained: “So I think one of the key tasks of [the new Commander-in-Chief Col. Gen. Oldeksandr] Syrskyi will be to conduct an audit: who’s been mobilized, where they are and what they are up to. An audit is to be done.… Mr. Syrskyi must say where and how mobilized people were deployed or will be deployed.” Podolyak stated that “only 200,000-300,000 soldiers have been on the front” and suggested that more can be put at the front, before calculating how many more to draft.
He said that Zelenskyy, after replacing Zaluzhny, had set new tasks, so we “need to clearly understand the tactics, because 2023 did not give the results we had expected in offensive operations. We cannot remain stagnant in 2024. We need to work out a step-by-step algorithm of what to do next.”
It is not likely that Syrskyi will provide the clear understanding of the failure of 2023, as he was the key yes-man in carrying out Zelenskyy’s tragic and futile waste of manpower at Bakhmut—”meatgrinder 2023”—undermining any chance for the vaunted counteroffensive.