Home » Zelensky dismisses his rival: “I appoint Zaluzhny as ambassador to the United Kingdom”

Zelensky dismisses his rival: “I appoint Zaluzhny as ambassador to the United Kingdom”

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Zelensky dismisses his rival: “I appoint Zaluzhny as ambassador to the United Kingdom”

There is a sensational new chapter in the power war underway at Kiev: President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he had “accepted the general’s candidacy Valery Zaluzhny as ambassador of our State to Great Britain”, moving his main political problem away from Kiev. A survey released yesterday by Socis, the most authoritative Ukrainian statistical research institute, had just established that if voting was held today Zelensky he would have no chance of being re-elected: he would be defeated with an enormous margin by the general whom he ousted exactly a month ago as head of the Ukrainian armed forces.

According to Zelensky, who made the news official in his evening speech, it was Zaluzhny himself who asked for a position “for himself exactly in this direction: the diplomatic one”. The president announced that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has already sent “a request for a LEISURE”, i.e. the formalization of the nomination to the United Kingdom for acceptance. In the meantime, however, there is absolute silence in Zaluzhny.

Power war in Kiev: Zelensky-Zaluzhny, now the break is total by our correspondent Paolo Brera 03 February 2024

The general has not commented nor is it known whether he has formally accepted his nomination, announced with the formula “the president has accepted his candidacy”. Previously, when the news of the general’s imminent dismissal was circulated at the beginning of February – without official confirmation or denial, to test its reception by the Ukrainians and the international reactions – it was said that Zelensky had put the general in front of the fait accompli of a decision already made, offering him three possible positions in exchange: a secret position in the presidential office; the role of secretary of the Security Council in place of Danilov; or an ambassadorship to the United Kingdom. And the reports that were circulated clearly warned that Zaluzhny had “rejected” all three proposals.

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So what has changed in the meantime to make him accept the job (assuming there isn’t a resounding refusal)? Since then the removed general had taken a period of rest during which he limited himself to a few solidarity initiatives, such as signing Ukrainian flags to raise funds in the USA. In the meantime he had not commented or given interviews. Around him, however, politics was in full swing, and the field of possible supporters of the general if he had decided to follow a political path had continually expanded. He had also found consensus among the same disappointed deputies of the presidential faction of the “Servants of the People”, not to mention Zelensky’s main political rivals such as the former president Petro Poroshenko and the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschkoready to unite in a united front.

The mayor of Kiev, Klitschko: “Zelensky was wrong on Zaluzhny. Now we need weapons and a government of national unity” from our correspondent Paolo Brera 04 March 2024

Lapilli under the ashes, naturally, because with an ongoing war and the current martial law no one is thinking of returning to the polls immediately. But according to political analysts, the front of those pushing for a government of national unity that limits the authoritarianism of President Zelensky and the power of his men, such as his right-hand man Yermak, is continually expanding.

In the meantime, the Socis poll gave a sudden electric shock to the system: “If we voted next Sunday, who would you vote for?” asked the question posed to the Ukrainians. 41.4% chose General Zaluzhny and only 23.7% President Zelensky. Third would be Poroshenko, with 6.4%. In the second round, then, the general would sweep away any re-election ambition for the president, who before the failed counteroffensive still had a very high level of confidence in the country to which he promised an imminent complete victory “with the return to the 1991 borders”.

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As for the “Zelensky bloc”, i.e. the president’s party, the Servants of the People, or a new similar formulation, it would have 21.1% of the vote, less than half of the 46.4% that would go to the “Zaluzhny Party”. Which, moreover, could count on the obvious support of several other smaller parties such as Poroshenko’s European Solidarity, credited with 7.5%.

In short, the president is stable by virtue of martial law, but his political legitimacy is increasingly less solid and his nightmare is only one: General Zaluzhny and his possible, never denied or confirmed, political ambitions. But to answer the question of what has changed in a month since Zaluzhny refused the job in London, we must perhaps look in another direction.

In recent days, a Ukrainian journalistic investigation revealed that the Kiev secret services placed a dossier on the desk of the head of the Presidential Office Andri Yermak that could lead to an indictment of General Zaluzhny. “A judicial gun pointed at the general’s head to convince him to accept the job”, say several comments now on Telegram, which in Ukraine is the only place where opinions circulate, bypassing the limits and gag imposed by martial law.

One thing is certain: now the move is up to Zaluzhny, and remaining silent and obeying as he did in the first hours when the news exploded at the top of all the country’s news sites would be a very clear answer: it would reveal the existence of a problem of rivalry that remains completely unresolved. It will take a long time before Zaluzhny can start his mission in England, but in the meantime he will already be under the “employment” of Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, a Zelensky loyalist. Once in London, then, he will be caged in a role under the direct control of Her Majesty’s intelligence services, which are also considered very close to the Presidential Office in Via Bankova.

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In short, Zelensky carefully moved his pawns on the political chessboard, taking the risk of a very dangerous shock at the top of power at a dramatic moment in the war in which Kiev is struggling to maintain the lines at the front. After having long banned Poroshenko from leaving Ukraine (and just yesterday the former president got the green light for the first mission to Romania after the blockade), he now sends Zaluzhny to a gilded cage in England.

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