Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is replacing the country’s top military commander as Kyiv’s war effort against Russia continues to face increasing problems.
Now-former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi is being replaced after Zelenskyy announced Thursday it was necessary to shake up the country’s military leadership. Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi’s relationship had become increasingly strained over disagreements on how Ukraine should carry out its war against Russia, as the country has been plagued by mass power outages, lost support in the U.S. Congress, and failed to make any notable achievements in its counteroffensive, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I met with General Valerii Zaluzhnyi,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Thursday. “We discussed the renewal that the Armed Forces of Ukraine require. We also discussed who could be part of the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
I met with General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
I thanked him for the two years of defending Ukraine.
We discussed the renewal that the Armed Forces of Ukraine require.
We also discussed who could be part of the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The time for such a renewal… pic.twitter.com/tMnUEZ3BCX
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 8, 2024
Zelenskyy noted that he offered to keep Zaluzhnyi as “part of the team” without further clarifying what that role would look like. Zelenskyy also announced that Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky would take the reins as Ukraine’s top military commander.
Zelenskyy previously asked Zaluzhnyi to step down from his post in January, but Zaluzhnyi refused.
Zaluzhnyi was incredibly popular among Ukrainians, having polled at an 88% approval rating among the population, and his removal is likely to spark backlash, according to Bloomberg. Syrsky is far less popular with Ukraine’s troop population, according to The Washington Post.
Kyiv has been plagued with a myriad of problems in its ongoing war efforts against Russia. Zelenskyy admitted in December 2023 that Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia had stalled out, and tens of thousands of soldiers have died on the frontlines of the war amid plans to draft hundreds of thousands more.
Kyiv is urging the U.S. and Western allies to quickly deliver more military aid for the war effort but this request has been met with increasing cynicism. Congress is currently deliberating over whether to grant additional aid to Kyiv, but that faces uncertainty as several lawmakers feel Ukraine does not have a clear strategy to end the war and have questioned where the existing aid has gone.
Kyiv has thus far received $75 billion from the U.S. since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022. The Senate successfully advanced on Thursday a supplemental package with an additional $60 billion for Ukraine, and if a subsequent procedural motion vote is successful, it will move to the House for consideration, according to The Hill.
American public support for Ukraine’s war effort dropped in 2023.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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