Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed the country’s armed forces commander-in-chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, amid rumors of a disagreement between the two. Zaluzhnyi, a respected figure among the Ukrainian military and public, has been at the helm of Ukraine’s war efforts since the conflict’s inception. His successor, Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, was named in a presidential decree. This marks the most significant shift in Ukraine’s military leadership since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Zelensky stated that the high command needed rejuvenation and that Zaluzhnyi could still be part of the team. He announced that a new management team would take over the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The president and Zaluzhnyi had a candid discussion about necessary changes in the military, and Zelensky thanked the general for his defense of Ukraine against Russia.
The newly appointed army chief, Gen Syrskyi, has experience in both defensive and offensive warfare. He led the defense of Kyiv at the start of Russia’s invasion and later orchestrated a successful counter-attack in Kharkiv. He has since been serving as the head of military operations in eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky emphasized that his reshuffling of the army’s leadership was not politically motivated but was about improving the management of Ukraine’s armed forces and leveraging the experience of battlefield commanders. He called for a more technologically advanced approach to warfare and a “reset” of generalship.
However, the decision has sparked mixed reactions, with opposition MPs criticizing the move as a grave error that could pose risks for the country. Meanwhile, Kyiv’s mayor expressed gratitude for Gen Zaluzhnyi’s service to Ukraine and hoped that the authorities would justify the changes. Ukraine’s defense minister thanked Zaluzhnyi for his contributions and victories, noting that war evolves and demands change.