Espreso. Global

Zelenskyy's rebukes of Zaluzhnyi indicate split in Ukrainian leadership

6 November, 2023 Monday

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office has criticized Ukraine's commander-in-chief for publicly stating that the war has reached a deadlock, suggesting that such comments would help the Russian invasion

This is stated in the NYT article.

As the NYT noted, "It was a striking public rebuke that signaled an emerging rift between the military and civilian leadership at an already challenging time for Ukraine."

Speaking on national television, Deputy Head of the Presidential Office, Ihor Zhovkva, said that General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi's statement that the fight against Russia had reached a deadlock "eases the work of the aggressor." Zelenskyy disagreed with the general's characterization of the fighting.

Zaluzhnyi's condemnation came the day after the presidential administration replaced one of his deputies, the head of the Special Operations Forces, who said the decision was a "surprise" to him.

The outlet emphasizes that Ukraine's leadership is concerned that the attention of Western allies has shifted to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, rather than the war with Russia. US officials have hinted that Ukraine is guilty of spreading its forces too thin; and Zelenskyy has said his army has not received enough weapons to move forward.

"Speculation about tension between the president and the military’s commanding general over strategy and command appointments had been swirling in Kyiv for more than a year but had not spilled into public disagreement previously," the article says.

General Zaluzhnyi did not immediately comment on the government's rebuke and the dismissal of his head of the Special Operations Forces. In the Economist, he argued that drone reconnaissance and other technologies have made mechanized attacks on both sides impossible, and that further progress is unlikely, and Ukraine will not achieve a "beautiful breakthrough" in the war without obtaining more advanced weapons. Zelenskyy, on the other hand, said during a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv on Saturday that "there are difficulties, there are different opinions... I believe that we have no right to even think about giving up, because what’s the alternative?"

Zaluzhnyi emphasized that breaking the deadlock would require technological progress to achieve air superiority, emphasizing the role of next-generation drones and electronic warfare.

For his part, Zhovkva, a deputy in the presidential office, said that Zaluzhnyi's words risked harming Ukraine's military efforts.

Zelenskyy dismissed one of Zaluzhnyi's main deputies, General Viktor Khorenko, commander of the Special Operations Forces of Ukraine, without first providing an explanation. Later, Ukrainian Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, said that he had recommended the dismissal of Khorenko, but would not explain why, so that it would not "give reasons to the enemy to weaken Ukraine."

"The decision puzzled some because General Khorenko had scored a string of successes in striking behind enemy lines, including hitting ships and infrastructure of Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea and targets inside Russia. The long-range strikes and sabotage operations of the special forces had cheered Ukrainians," the outlet writes.

American officers who worked with General Khorenko were surprised by the news of his dismissal and described a close and effective working relationship with him, according to American military officials.

The article notes that according to the Ukrainian Constitution, the president has the right to appoint and dismiss the head of the Special Operations Forces, although the position is directly subordinate to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The dismissal appears to have undermined General Zaluzhnyi's authority.

"This is a big mistake, and there will be consequences," Bobrovska, a member of the parliamentary committee on defense and intelligence, said of Khorenko's dismissal.

Zaluzhnyi's column and Zelenskyy's response

On November 1, the Economist published Valeriy Zaluzhnyi's column for the first time since December 2022.

The Commander-in-Chief noted that the Russian war against Ukraine could enter a more dangerous phase and outlined priority directions for preventing this. Zaluzhnyi explained what is needed to break the stalemate in the war with Russia.  He also named 5 priorities that will prevent the war from turning into a positional war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the article by the Commander-in-Chief of Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and said that Ukraine was not in a stalemate. According to the president, Ukraine was in a more difficult situation.

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