It’s official: as we predicted even starting last month Ukraine’s top general and commander of the armed forces is now out.
President Zelensky has confirmed that Gen. Valery Zaluzhny has been dismissed, in what appears part of a broader shake-up of top military and government leadership. Zelensky said it is “time for renewal”.
Zelensky said Thursday he met with his army chief and that while it’s time for significant “changes” – Zaluzhny should remain “on his team”. Though the decision had been rumored and reported for over a week, presumably the stall was to negotiate and ensure peaceful transition of the top defense post. There were also widespread reports that Zaluzhny had refused to step down.
“We discussed what renewal the Armed Forces of Ukraine need. We also discussed who could be in the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The time for this renewal is now,” Zelensky announced in an English statement on X and Telegram.
Zaluzhny had just before the announcement confirmed he had an “important and serious conversation” with Zelensky which focused on changing battlefield tactics and strategy.
The now former top commander has huge popularity among military ranks and especially far-right, ultranationalist and neo-Nazi elements. Will his firing result in mutiny or rebellion among some units?
Very quickly on the heels of news of Zaluzhny’s dismissal, Ukraine announced the appointment of Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new commander-in-chief the armed forces. Until now, Gen. Syrskyi was Ukraine’s ground forces commander.
‼️ Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially announced that he appointed Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. pic.twitter.com/zNidGclLiD
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 8, 2024
According to Ukraine’s FT correspondent:
Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov thanked Zaluzhny for his “achievements and victories,” saying that the general “had one of the most difficult tasks – to lead the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the Great War with Russia.”
A new military leadership team is expected to take over as of today.