Ukrainian President Zelensky's controversial plan to replace Supreme Commander Zaluzhny amidst declining public support
On January 29, Zelensky and Zaluzhny met at the Presidential Office. During this meeting, which included Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, the President proposed a new role for the General as an advisor for military modernization. Zaluzhny declined the offer and refused to resign.
Ukrainska Pravda stated that the outcome of this conversation was unsurprising. President Zelensky has previously criticized the supreme commander, accusing him of having political ambitions. Before this meeting, a public opinion poll revealed an increase in the number of people wanting the war to end, even if it necessitates certain compromises with Russia. The poll also showed a drop in support for the President, contrasting with Zaluzhny, whose popularity has increased alongside that of his not-yet-established party.
The General Staff expected that decrees regarding Zaluzhny's dismissal and the appointment of General Staff Chief General Serhiy Shaptala would be announced on February 2. The day prior, The Washington Post reported, based on inside sources, that Ukrainian authorities informed the White House about President Zelensky's decision to change the Armed Forces commander.
According to The Washington Post, the USA did not support the Ukrainian President's plans but refrained from expressing opposition, acknowledging that Zelensky has the right to make personnel decisions.
Zelensky considers dismissing Zaluzhny
In an interview with Italian television RAI, aired on the night of February 4 to 5, Zelensky publicly admitted for the first time that he is contemplating the dismissal of Zaluzhny. The president started discussing a "big reset" within power structures.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, Zelensky is contemplating two candidates for the position of supreme commander. The more probable being 58-year-old General Syrsky, who oversees large sectors of the front and launched his military career during the days of the Soviet Union. The portal comments that he has a reputation, illustrating him as a commander for whom "the accomplishment of objectives outweighs the number of lives sacrificed."
Zelensky also considers General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of military intelligence, as another potential candidate.