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Zelensky, top gen not on same page? Reports say president wants him to go – Times of India

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KYIV: In Ukraine, speculation raged this week in political and military circles, the news media and online that Ukrainian President Zelensky had fired the commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, with rumours becoming so widespread that the president’s office was forced to issue a public denial. “There was no dismissal,” the president’s spokesperson, Serhiy Nikiforov, told the media on Monday.The curt response has only fuelled further speculation.
Other reports said that Zelensky asked Zaluzhny to step aside this week, but that he refused. Another source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that Ukraine’s ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi was offered the job of replacing Zaluzhny, but declined. A former senior Ukrainian official said Zelensky’s government had been planning on dismissing the general, but backed off Monday when the news was leaked. A Ukrainian member of parliament who had been briefed on the plans gave a similar account, saying the two men met Monday night but no decision was made.
Removing Zaluzhny could also lead to a thorny political problem for Zelensky. The military commander now ranks as more popular than the president in some opinion polls, and dismissing him would be viewed by some as a move intended to diminish the general as a potential political opponent. Zaluzhny’s job has been in doubt since it became clear in the autumn that Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the country’s south had failed. Zaluzhny is seen as a hero to many in Ukraine after his troops successfully defended Kyiv at the start of the Russian invasion. Ukraine media have tipped Syrskyi and military spy chief Kyrylo Budanov as two possible successors to Zaluzhny.

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