Ukraine’s Zelensky said to fire army chief Zaluzhny as war effort stalls

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny attends an event for marking Statehood Day in Mykhailivska Square in Kyiv, July 28, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny attends an event for marking Statehood Day in Mykhailivska Square in Kyiv, July 28, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

After ongoing rumors this week that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky was planning to fire his popular army chief — and a denial from the president’s spokesman — The Washington Post reports that Zelensky informed Gen. Valery Zaluzhny during a meeting on Monday that he is removing him.

Zelensky’s office has yet to issue an official statement, nor has Zaluzhny’s. Ukrainian officials declined to comment on the report to The Times of Israel.

Zaluzhny and Zelensky have had a frosty relationship for some time. If and when elections happen this year, Zaluzhny is seen as a potential challenger to Zelensky, whose popularity has been dropping.

After the failure of the much-awaited and costly Ukrainian counteroffensive last year, Zaluzhny admitted to The Economist in November that the fighting had become a “stalemate,” while the president offered a much more rosy message and rejected that characterization days later.

Ukraine’s political and military leaders are also butting heads over a widespread military draft, with both sides trying to saddle the other with responsibility for the highly unpopular move.

According to The Washington Post, Zelensky told his senior general that the country is growing weary of the war and foreign military aid has slowed, so the war effort needs some rejuvenation.

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