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Ukraine's army chief Zaluzhnyi dismissed

Ukraine's army chief Zaluzhnyi dismissed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dismissed the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, according to Zelenskyy's statement.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced the dismissal of Valerii Zaluzhnyi from the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

What did the president say

"I am grateful to General Zaluzhnyi for two years of defense. I am grateful for every victory we have achieved together and thanks to all Ukrainian warriors who heroically bear the brunt of this war," the president states.

According to him, they openly discussed today what changes the army needs. The president offered General Zaluzhnyi to continue being part of the Ukrainian state team, and added that he would be grateful for his consent.

"Starting today, a new management team takes over the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.I want our warriors in Robotyne or Avdiivka, the General Staff and the Staff to have the same vision of the war. Everyone whose experience will now serve the renewal of the Armed Forces is being carefully selected. I have had dozens of conversations with commanders of various levels. In particular, today I spoke with Brigadier Generals Andriy Hnatov, Mykhailo Drapatyi, Ihor Skibiuk, and Colonels Pavlo Pallisa and Vadym Sukharevskyi," adds the president.

Who is Valerii Zaluzhnyi

Zaluzhnyi was born on July 8, 1973, in the city of Novohrad-Volynskyi, the Zhytomyr region.

From 2019 to 2021, he served as the commander of the troops of the Operational Command North. Before that, Zaluzhnyi held the position of Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and was the first deputy commander of the Joint Forces.

In 2017, Valerii Zaluzhnyi was the chief of staff, the first deputy commander of the troops of the Operational Command West. From 2009 to 2012, Zaluzhnyi served as the commander of the 51st separate mechanized brigade.

On July 27, 2021, by the decree of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Valerii Zaluzhnyi was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Zaluzhnyi's family

Valerii Zaluzhnyi is married and has two daughters. The older one serves in the Kyiv garrison, and the younger one studies in Odesa.

Conflict between Zaluzhnyi and Zelenskyy

Earlier, information began to spread in the media about a possible conflict between Valerii Zaluzhnyi and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Then, a large article was published in TIME about the war in Ukraine supposedly taking on a positional character. It caused a sharp reaction both in the President's Office and in society. According to RBC-Ukraine, the President's Office was aware that Zaluzhnyi intended to release such material but did not know its content.

And this is not the only reason for the escalation between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi.

Why was Zaluzhnyi dismissed

It is worth noting that as early as April 2022, there was information about the creation by the head of the military of his own namesake charitable foundation to help the army. This fund was promptly renamed, but the Office of the President interpreted this story as a sign that the head of the General Staff still had political ambitions.

Moreover, there was already a strong foundation for this - literally immediately after the full-scale invasion, the level of support for the Armed Forces rose to 98%, which was higher than the rating of personal support for Zelenskyy - 93%.

One of the first public manifestations of the conflict was the publication of an internal document of the General Staff, which envisaged the need for the military commissariat's permission to move military servicemen of Ukraine. The document caused a great resonance, and Zelenskyy called on the General Staff "not to make such decisions without him in the future."

Extremely sharply, the Office of the President reacted to an article by Zaluzhnyi for The Economist, where he talked about the situation on the front and what Ukraine needs to win. Zelenskyy's administration perceived it extremely sharply - not only because of the violation of the agreement but also because of the content: Zaluzhnyi's narrative sharply contradicted Zelenskyy's narrative that the situation was by no means deadlocked. As a result, first the Office of the President, and then Zelenskyy personally, made critical statements about the head of the General Staff.

In addition, the situation was sharply aggravated by the actual failure of the counteroffensive. As RBC-Ukraine's sources told, the first source of all optimistic forecasts was the generals' assurances of the operation's success, which they shared at the Staff meetings and in communication with Zelenskyy.

There were also other reasons for the conflicts. One of the interlocutors in the military-political leadership told the publication that Zelenskyy, some time after the full-scale invasion, began to travel to the front lines and personally communicate with colonels and commanders - while Zaluzhnyi remained in Kyiv for a long time.

Read more about what happened between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi and what preceded the dismissal of Ukraine's army chief in the material of RBC-Ukraine.