NewsUkraine war takes backstage as President Zelensky plans to dismiss leading General Zaluzhny amid rising tensions

Ukraine war takes backstage as President Zelensky plans to dismiss leading General Zaluzhny amid rising tensions

Ukraine war takes backstage as President Zelensky plans to dismiss leading General Zaluzhny amid rising tensions
Images source: © GETTY | Anadolu

3:52 PM EST, January 30, 2024, updated: 4:37 AM EST, March 7, 2024

Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is set to replace his leading general in what is referred to as "the most significant rearrangement within the Ukrainian military command since the initiation of the full-on Russian invasion".

Zaluzhny refuses to vacate his position, despite Zelensky's dismissal intentions

The Financial Times reported on Monday that President Zelensky offered Valeriy Zaluzhny, the Chief Commander, a different role. However, Zaluzhny declined the offer.

Sources from the FT shared that "Zelensky made it clear to Zaluzhny that irrespective of his decision to accept the new role, his current position would still be terminated." Zaluzhny's dismissal has been held off because of the unforeseen media fallout. On Monday evening, this news was deemed urgent across all significant Ukrainian media outlets and channels on the Telegram platform.

Rising tension between Zelensky and Zaluzhny

"Dear journalists, to clear any speculation: no, it's not true," the ministry posted on its Telegram channel without providing further context. On Tuesday, the president's office refrained from making additional statements.

The FT noted, "Zelensky's offer of a different role for Zaluzhny comes after months of conjecture about his future, fanned by frequent reports of friction between them."

The first signs of a fissure in their relationship emerged in November 2023 when Ukraine's counteroffensive failed to meet its ambitious targets, such as regaining lost territory and severing Russia's land bridge to Crimea. Mr. Zaluzhny suggested that the war had reached a stalemate, a characterization sharply criticized by the presidential office.

Zaluzhny shares a photo

"Removing Zaluzhny could potentially disrupt the Ukrainian military and civilian society, where the general has substantial support," the FT reminded.

Zaluzhny has stayed silent on the dismissal reports. Still, on Monday, he shared an undated selfie with his Chief-of-Staff Serhiy Shaptala, both donned in Ukrainian army attire on Facebook. The post was shared over 2000 times and gathered hundreds of supportive comments within a few minutes after uploading it.

Speculation about Zaluzhny's looming dismissal started to spread on Monday night via local media, anonymous local Telegram channels, and statements from politicians closely associated with former President Petro Poroshenko, who lost to Zelensky in the 2019 elections. However, four insiders told the Financial Times that the decision to relieve Zaluzhny of his duties was made in Zelensky's cabinet.

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