Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the dismissal of the country’s top commander, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, in the largest military shake-up since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion almost two years ago. This comes after a failed counteroffensive and with Ukraine facing renewed Russian attack, manpower and ammunition shortages, and stalled U.S. aid. Zelensky has stated that it is time for a renewal within the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Zaluzhnyi’s replacement will be Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has served as commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces since 2019.
Tensions between the two have been mounting for months, but differences intensified after Zaluzhnyi said the war had reached a stalemate. Zelensky’s office criticized these comments, and they later disagreed over the need for mass mobilization, with Zelensky resisting the army chief’s suggestion for up to half a million recruits.
Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal is a gamble for Zelensky, as the general remains one of Ukraine’s most popular leaders. Warnings about reduced military support from key allies and struggles with the defense industry have been made by Zaluzhnyi, who also urged for drone mastery as a way to avoid a “positional war.”
Syrskyi, who will replace Zaluzhnyi, has had a long military career and led the successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region last year. The decision to replace Zaluzhnyi has stirred controversy among Ukrainian forces, with some expressing doubts about the change in military leadership in the midst of an ongoing war.