There has been prolonged acrimony between the Ukrainian president and Valery Zaluzhny, who has led Kiev’s forces since 2021
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky intends to fire his top general, Valery Zaluzhny, before the end of the week, CNN claimed on Wednesday citing sources familiar with the situation. The report follows similar rumors appearing in outlets such as the Financial Times and the Washington Post, which have so far been dismissed by Kiev.
The relationship between the two men reportedly began to deteriorate when the general wrote an article for The Economist in November, describing the battlefield situation as a “stalemate” following Kiev’s failed counteroffensive. The president has vehemently rejected that assessment.
According to CNN, Zaluzhny was called into Zelensky’s office on Monday, where he was told he would be fired in the next few days. While no formal announcement has yet been made, a source allegedly told the outlet that a presidential decree is expected by the end of the week.
Rumors that the country’s popular military leader would be replaced originally started circulating in the media earlier this week based on anonymous sources in Kiev. The Washington Post claimed that the president explained his decision to Zaluzhny by saying that a new commander was needed to rejuvenate the situation, as the Ukrainian people had grown tired of war while Kiev’s foreign backers had reduced military assistance.
The general was then reportedly offered an advisory position, which he declined, opting instead to leave the military entirely, a source told the outlet.
After reports of Zaluzhny’s imminent sacking leaked on Monday, Zelensky spokesman Sergey Nikiforov issued an official statement insisting it was “untrue.” The Ukrainian Defense Ministry also posted a message on social media declaring the rumors false.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Ukrainian president had chosen to reconsider the decision after the initial plan ended up in the press. However, another source told the paper that the firing had only been temporarily delayed while Kiev looks for a fitting replacement for Zaluzhny.
Moscow, meanwhile, has described the rumors of the Ukrainian commander’s dismissal as a sign that Kiev’s leadership is in disarray and has “a lot of problems,” according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. He predicted that divisions in Ukraine’s military and civilian leadership stemming from the failed counteroffensive would continue to grow as Russia proceeds with its objectives.
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