Situation in Ukraine

Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny has left his post as the Ukraine’s top general

by Sputnik Globe

Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny has left his post as the Ukraine’s top general, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov has announced.
“General Valery Zaluzhny had one of the most difficult tasks – to lead the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the Great War with Russia,” Umerov wrote in a social media post Thursday evening. “But war does not remain the same. War changes and demands change. Battles of 2022, 2023 and 2024 are three different realities. 2024 will bring new changes for which we must be ready. New approaches, new strategies are needed,” he added.
“Today, a decision was made on the need to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I am sincerely grateful to Valery Fedorovych for all his achievements and victories,” Umerov wrote.
Earlier in the day, Zaluzhny and Zelensky published photos to their respective social media confirming that they had met.
“I have just met with the supreme commander. We had an important and serious conversation. A decision was made about the need to change approaches and strategy. I am grateful to all those close to me, to the team at the General Staff, the Defense Ministry, the president of Ukraine,” Zaluzhny wrote in his post.
“I have met with General Valery Zaluzhny. I thanked him for two years in the defense of Ukraine. We discussed the kind of renewal required by the Armed Forces. We discussed who could be present in the updated leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The time for such an update is now,” Zelensky said in his post.
In a video address Thursday evening, Zelensky confirmed that Zaluzhny had been dismissed, and announced that he would be replaced as commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces by Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrsky, an officer who has served as commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces since 2019.
Zelensky 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.”

Who is Oleksandr Syrsky?

Born in 1965 in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and moving to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1980, Syrsky began his military service in 1986 as a commander of a motorized rifle platoon. A graduate of the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School, he served in the Soviet military in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Czechoslovakia. After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Syrsky gradually rose through the ranks of the Ukrainian military.

With the outbreak of the Ukrainian civil conflict in the Donbass in 2014, Syrsky was appointed deputy chief of the Main Command Center of the Armed Forces, with responsibilities including coordination of cooperation with NATO, and tapped as chief of staff of the so-called ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ meant to crush Donbass militias resisting Kiev’s post-Maidan coup government. In 2016, he was appointed the head of the Joint Operational Headquarters of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. He was promoted again to his current rank of colonel general in August 2020.

After the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis into a full-fledged Russia-NATO proxy war in Ukraine, Syrsky was charged with maneuvering Ukrainian forces into areas of Kiev region which Russian forces voluntarily pulled back from in accordance with efforts to reach a peace deal in the spring of 2022. In September 2022, after Russian forces pulled back from Kharkov region to shore up defensive lines elsewhere along the front, Syrsky again commanded Ukrainian forces. From the fall of 2022 to the spring of 2023, Syrsky was tasked with commanding Ukrainian forces in Soledar and Artemovsk (Bakhmut), strategic Donbass settlements which were ultimately liberated by Russian forces in difficult and bloody street-to-street and house-to-house fighting.

Zaluzhny-Zelensky Spat

Zaluzhny’s removal comes in the wake of a months-long spat between himself and Zelensky. The public spat began in November of 2023, when Zaluzhny penned an article for The Economist in which he admitted that there would be no “deep and beautiful breakthrough” in Ukraine’s counteroffensive and suggested that the conflict with Russia had reached a “stalemate.” Zelensky initially refused to admit that the counteroffensive had failed, but later confirmed that Ukraine would be shifting to a new “defensive” strategy. The Zaluzhny-Zelensky conflict was punctuated by the sacking of Zaluzhny allies, the mysterious bomb explosion death of one of the commander’s key aides, and the poisoning of the wife of Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov.
In a new essay for CNN published last week, Zaluzhny envisioned the future of the proxy conflict between NATO and Russia in Ukraine as one filled with “cheap, modern and highly effective, unmanned vehicles and other technological means,” which he hinted could be used in everything from battlefield operations to terror bombings of Russian infrastructure to reach “psychological objectives.”
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