Volodymyr Zelenskiy fires top Ukraine army commander
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine's President, has dismissed Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the country's top military commander, and appointed Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new chief, signaling a major restructuring of the armed forces.
The change comes amid intense conflict with Russia.
After thanking Zaluzhnyi for his contributions, Zelenskiy stressed the necessity of refreshing military leadership. Despite Zaluzhnyi's popular support and refusal to resign after a leaked discussion, Zelenskiy chose Syrskyi, credited with crucial defensive and offensive successes but with some criticism from front-line troops.
The move has sparked speculation of political motives, as Zaluzhnyi’s rising profile could position him as a political threat. Zelenskiy, however, dismissed these claims, highlighting the pressing need for a strategic military shift amidst concerns of soldier morale and equipment shortages, further exacerbated by a stall in U.S. aid.
Tensions with Zaluzhnyi had been building, evidenced by differing public war narratives. Zelenskiy's critics have voiced concerns about the dismissal's rationale, fearing army demoralization.
Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak underscored the President's pursuit of innovative military strategies as the war progresses. Zaluzhnyi, appointed before the invasion and having a positive rapport with Zelenskiy initially, embraced the need for adaptation in his farewell message.
Despite no declared political intentions, Zaluzhnyi’s removal poses a risk for Zelenskiy, as his reputation as a potential unifying leader may grow amidst future front-line challenges.