Zelensky appoints new Ukrainian army chief, replacing popular military leader

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday replaced the head of the Ukrainian People’s Army with his ground forces commander, at a time when Russian forces are gaining the upper hand nearly two years after the start of their war.

The reshuffle ushering in new military leadership follows months of speculation about a rift between Zelensky and army chief Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, whom many Ukrainians consider a national hero.

“As of today, a new leadership team takes over the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a statement.

He named Colonel-General. Oleksandr Syrskyi as new head of the armed forces.

Syrskyi, commander of ground forces, takes the helm amid deep uncertainty as kyiv waits for vital military aid from the United States, delayed for months by political infighting.

As Ukraine struggles to quickly reform its army mobilization program, Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal could deal a major blow to troop morale on a 1,000-kilometer front. It could also backfire politically, hurting Zelensky’s audience.

Polls indicate that public confidence in Zaluzhnyi, known to some as the “Iron General,” stands at more than 90 percent, significantly higher than Zelensky’s 77 percent at the end of the year. last year.

“New realities” for Ukraine, says Zaluzhnyi

The military reshuffle took place following a series of statements in which Zelenskyy said he met with Zaluzhnyi to discuss changes to the military leadership. He had asked the general to stay “in his team”, he said.

In his own statement, Zaluzhnyi said he had an “important and serious conversation” with Zelenskyy and a decision was made to change tactics and strategy on the battlefield.

“The tasks of 2022 are different from those of 2024. Therefore, everyone must also change and adapt to new realities. To win together too,” reads its press release.

The two statements were issued within moments of each other, suggesting that Ukraine’s two most important war figures had coordinated closely to display unity.

Neither Zelensky nor Zaluzhnyi provided details on the possible implications of the new strategy.

Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelensky’s adviser, said Ukraine needs to rethink its tactics, “which did not fully guarantee good results last year.”

Ukraine must “avoid stagnation on the front line, which negatively affects public opinion, and find new functional and high-tech solutions that will allow (Ukraine) to maintain and develop the initiative,” a- he declared on X, the former social media platform. known as Twitter.

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