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Zelenskyy asked Ukraine’s top general to quit and he refused | World News – Times of India

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Ukraine’s commander-in-chief refused to step down from his post at a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Monday, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Zelenskyy asked Valeriy Zaluzhnyi to take on a new role as he seeks to reinvigorate his military leadership following the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia’s occupying forces since the fall.The move also reflects a deepening power struggle at the heart of the country’s war effort. Zelenskyy’s spokesman said that Zaluzhnyi has not been pushed out.
Rumors of tensions between Zelenskyy and his top commander have been swirling around Kyiv for months, fueled by an outspoken interview that Zaluzhnyi published in the Economist in November. Zaluzhnyi said the war had reached a stalemate, a view that was publicly contradicted by his boss.
Disagreements between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi actually date back to the first months of the war, according to people familiar with the military leadership. Zelenskyy is pushing for a bolder approach to the conflict this year and has appeared at odds with his general’s more conservative approach.
The two men have also sparred over a new law on conscription that aims to replenish the depleted ranks of the army but is unpopular with the Ukrainian people.
The tensions have been exacerbated by the fact that Zaluzhnyi is wildly popular with both the Ukrainian people and his troops. The general, who has the backing of 88% of Ukrainians in polls, has said he’s not interested in becoming a politician while Zelenskyy has also warned top military officials against entering politics.
Zaluzhnyi’s removal “will be deeply unpopular across the Ukrainian military,” Michael Kofman, a specialist on Russia and Ukraine at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Tuesday on the War on the Rocks podcast. “I am not sure how appointing someone new fixes any of these big questions on mobilization, on what the Ukrainian strategy should be.”
At a meeting with Zaluzhnyi and defense minister Rustem Umerov at his office in Kyiv Monday, Zelenskyy discussed the situation on the battlefield as Russia has shifted back to the offensive, the people said. Zelenskyy wants to prevent the Russian occupation of large swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine from turning into a frozen conflict, the people said.
Pressure is growing for Zelenskyy and his team to articulate a clear strategy for the war as it approaches the two-year mark, with vital aid from the US and the European Union tied up by political disputes.
The US wants Ukraine to sharpen its plan and believes that differences between Zaluzhnyi and Zelenskyy are slowing down decision making, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Any split between the president’s team and his military brass only benefits Russia, according to a former British official who worked closely with the Ukrainian government during the early part of the war.
At the same time, opposition politicians have tried to capitalize on the tension, showering Zaluzhnyi with support on social media and television, including channels linked to former President Petro Poroshenko. Concerns of a potential rivalry with Zaluzhnyi deepened within Zelenskyy’s camp after the army chief appointed a member of Poroshenko’s party as his close aide last year.
Zelenskyy, who as president appoints and dismisses the army commander-in-chief, hasn’t commented on the rumors about Zaluzhnyi in the days after meeting with the general. The president hasn’t taken any decision on Zaluzhnyi yet, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Prolonged uncertainty about Zaluzhnyi’s future is an obstacle to securing new military aid from Ukraine’s western allies and in countering a narrative about discord between political and military leaders, analysts at Dragon Capital investment bank said in a note. “Any additional domestic turbulence can hardly help,” they said.





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