Ukraine’s top commander Valery Zaluzhny has been removed from his post, in the biggest shake-up of Kyiv’s military leadership since Russia’s invasion almost two years ago.
The popular general had led the Ukrainian army since the start of the war, pushing back a vastly more powerful invading force in the first months of the conflict.
But the failure of a much-vaunted counteroffensive last summer and public disagreement with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky tarnished his reputation in the president’s office.
“Today we had a frank discussion about what needs to change in the army. Urgent changes,” Zelensky says in a statement on social media.
“I have offered General Zaluzhny to continue to be part of the team of the Ukrainian state. I would be grateful for his consent,” Zelensky writes.
Oleksandr Syrsky, who commanded Ukraine’s lightning Autumn 2022 counter-offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, will take Zaluzhny’s place, Zelensky says.
After over a year of deadlocked trench warfare, with Russia’s army relentlessly pressing against outmanned Ukrainian soldiers across the sprawling front, Kyiv has sought urgent changes.
Zelensky called on his new military leadership to devise a strategy to beat back Russian forces.
“The year 2024 can be successful for Ukraine only if we make effective changes in the basis of our defense, which is the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Zelensky says.