Zelensky hints at major Ukrainian government shakeup

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President Volodymyr Zelensky said a broad overhaul of Ukraine’s military and civilian leadership was needed to revive the country’s war effort, suggesting a major reshuffle of his government was imminent.

Mr Zelensky’s comments, in a broadcast on Sunday evening, indicated that his plans went beyond replacing the top military commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhny. Tensions between the military and civilian leaders, which have been building for months, appeared to reach a breaking point last week, when Mr. Zelensky summoned the general for a meeting to tell him he was being fired, according to reports. Ukrainian officials close to the matter. .

However, the decision was suspended, create a feeling of limbo at the top of government at a precarious moment in the war.

“A reset, a new start is necessary,” Mr Zelensky told the Italian media outlet. Rai News on the Sunday evening show. “I have something serious in mind, which does not concern a single person but the direction of the country’s leaders.”

Exhausted Ukrainian forces are struggling to contain new Russian offensives on the front, with the epicenter of the fighting around the battered town of Avdiivka, in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russian soldiers, using thick cloud cover to evade detection by Ukrainian surveillance drones, managed to penetrate the city’s northern suburbs in recent days, according to Ukrainian soldiers in the area.

They are increasingly threatening a vital supply line and Ukraine’s control over the city. The fall of Avdiivka would represent the most significant victory for Russian forces since they took Bakhmut in Mayand this would open new assault lines in the Kremlin’s attempt to seize the entire eastern Donbass region.

It could also free up resources for another Russian push several hundred kilometers to the north, in the Kharkiv region.

Moscow has amassed more than 40,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles near Kupiansk, in what Ukrainian military commanders say is a growing attempt to retake territory in Kharkiv that Russian forces lost during of a Ukrainian offensive more than a year ago.

Ukraine’s defense has been undermined by the suspension of vital US military aid, with Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives blocking repeated efforts to provide new funding.

The lack of assistance not only led to a severe shortage of artillery and other weapons, but also made planning for the future extremely difficult.

As Ukrainian lawmakers are engaged in a heated debate over a new mobilization bill which could lead to recruiting up to 500,000 troops, the discussion is complicated by the fact that Ukrainian leaders do not know what resources will be available to train and equip these troops.

Even before the standoff in Washington, newly committed aid to Ukraine had fallen by almost 90% between August and October compared to the same period in 2022, the report said. Kiel Institute for the World Economya German research institute.

As Senate Republicans and Democrats unveiled a $118.3 billion compromise bill Sunday tying $60 billion in security aid to Ukraine to aid to Israel and U.S. border security reforms, President Mike Johnson, who had insisted on tying together these disparate issues, said the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the Republican-controlled House.

Former President Donald J. Trump is campaign against the deal and pressured his supporters in Congress to block it.

Mr. Biden on Sunday urged lawmakers to pass the legislation, saying that “if we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, it will overtake Ukraine and the cost to America will rise.”

Ukrainian forces may be at their weakest point since the summer of 2022. Mr. Zelensky’s frustrations with Mr. Zaluzhny have grown over the past year, as fighting has escalated. bogged down in bloody and static trench warfare. But Mr. Zelensky moved cautiously, well aware of the risks of replacing the popular military commander.

Mr. Zaluzhny is held in high esteem by rank-and-file soldiers and is considered a hero by many at home for orchestrating Ukraine’s defense during the chaotic early months of the war, Europe’s largest land conflict for decades.

His dismissal could fuel concerns about the instability of kyiv’s wartime leadership and would almost certainly be used by Russian propagandists to portray Mr. Zelensky as an undemocratic tyrant.

“When we talk about this, I mean the replacement of a series of state leaders, not just in a single sector like the army,” Mr. Zelensky said on Sunday’s show, when asked about the reports that he was considering replacing General Zaluzhny. . “If we want to win, we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory.”

Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, said the White House had been consulted on possible changes in Ukraine’s leadership and would not intervene on personnel decisions.

“It is the sovereign right of Ukraine and the right of the Ukrainian president to make his decisions regarding his personnel.” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “We have been clear: we are simply not going to get caught up in this particular decision. We indicated this directly to the Ukrainians.”

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