Rumors have surfaced that President Zelensky wants to fire the general after the chief of staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Salushnyi, said in the summer that fighting with Russia had stopped. These rumors seem to be true now.
Ukraine has informed the White House of its decision to remove the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Salushny. It was reported by Ukrainian and US media on Saturday, citing unanimous “government sources”.
Washington neither accepted nor opposed the decision, insisting it was a sovereign matter for Kiev.
It is not yet clear when the dismissal, which Zelenskyj must carry out personally, will take place. Rumors of Salushni's dismissal have been around for a long time, as the personal conflict between the president and the commander-in-chief became apparent. General Zalushny blamed politicians for Ukraine's failure to introduce a “proper” army and increase defense production. But he openly opposed many strategic decisions at the political level, such as the defense of Bagmuth.
Politicians accuse Saluzhnyj of several “wrong” decisions that led to the failure of the long-awaited counteroffensive in the spring/summer; He got the idea of ”strategic defense” at a time when politicians were anticipating counterattacks. Salushnij was accused of establishing contacts with foreign partners on his own initiative and being too politically active for a general.
Rumors that Salushny would be fired were denied this week by Zelensky's office and the Defense Ministry.
For Russia, Salushny's ouster could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as his exit would be the worst shakeup of Ukraine's top military leadership since the Russian invasion.
Since the failed counteroffensive over the summer, Ukraine has struggled with catastrophic ammunition and personnel shortages. The morale of the troops, who have been engaged in nearly two years of bitter fighting, could also suffer.
Speaking to The Associated Press, a Ukrainian government official said during a meeting on Monday that Zelensky told Salushny that he would have to resign if a common solution could not be found on key issues.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, suggested the crowd was emotional and that the mobilization was part of a disagreement. The official said that tensions were rising between the two and that the general would not give up his post voluntarily.
Ukrainian online media outlet Dzerkalo Tyzhnia reported this week, citing unidentified sources close to Zelensky and Zalushny, that the president had asked the general to resign. According to reports, Salushni was offered a position as a consultant, but he turned it down.
“Zelensky has the right to remove Salushny. But he needs a good justification for this, a good explanation that Ukrainians understand,” said Oleksiy Haran of the “Democratic Initiatives” foundation in Kyiv.
“We know that Salushny's removal will be used by the Russian propaganda, but also by forces in the United States to delay the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. “So this will not be a good thing,” Haran said.
Zalushny is popular across the country and with the military, but he has been at odds with Zelensky, who in an interview with The Economist last year said the fight with Russia had stopped.
There is unconcealed joy in Russia at the possible removal of Salushny. State media reported extensively on the rumours.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin was “certain” following the news about Salushny.
“It is obvious that the failed counteroffensive and problems at the front have led to growing conflicts between Kiev's military and civilian elite,” Peskov said.
A major air alert sounded across southeastern Ukraine on Friday evening. Groups of Russian drones reportedly visited Krivi Rih, Kherson, Dnipro and Odessa. In turn, Russian social media reported explosions in the Voronezh region, possibly caused by a drone strike.
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