Volodymyr Zelensky has fired Valerii Zaluzhnyi, who served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for nearly three years, prior to the shock decision
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi has lost his job following speculation about a rift between the president and General Zaluzhnyi, who had led Ukraine’s war effort since February 2022. The dismissal will be made official in a presidential decree.
The country’s defence minister Rustem Umerov said in a statement as the news emerged: “General Valerii Zaluzhnyi had one of the most difficult tasks – to lead the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the Great War with Russia.
“But war does not remain the same. War changes and demands change. Battles 2022, 2023 and 2024 are three different realities. 2024 will bring new changes, for which we must be ready. New approaches, new strategies are needed.
“Today, a decision was made on the need to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I am sincerely grateful to Valerii Fedorovych for all his achievements and victories.”
General Zaluzhnyi was Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for nearly three years. Shortly before the formal announcement, Zelensky said he held a meeting with General Zaluzhnyi, and “discussed what kind of renewal the Armed Forces of Ukraine need.”
He then added: “The time for such a renewal is now.” General Zaluzhnyi’s replacement will be Oleksandr Syrskyi, who since 2019 has served as the Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces.
The outgoing commander wrote on his Telegram channel on Thursday that “the tasks of 2022 are different from those of 2024. He added: “Therefore, everyone must change and adapt to the new realities as well. We have just met with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. It was an important and serious conversation. It was decided that we need to change our approaches and strategy.”
Differences between the two men had been simmering for many months but appeared to grow towards the end of last year. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine near the city of Avdiivka, where soldiers are fighting from street to street.
And the massive shake-up comes as Ukraine is gearing up to face a major counter-strike by Russian forces. The roughly 930-mile line of contact has shifted little during recent months of wintry weather. As the war in Ukraine nears its two-year anniversary, Avdiivka has become “a primary focus” of Moscow’s forces.
Street-to-street combat is taking place in the city as Ukrainian troops seek to keep open their main supply route amid intense bombardment, the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.