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He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what "Iron General" Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

He became Commander-in-Chief only in 2021

On Thursday, February 8, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. Zaluzhnyi had one of the most difficult tasks: to lead the Armed Forces during a full-scale war with Russia.

The general is one of the most trusted people in Ukraine thanks to his key role in deterring the initial Russian attack and his simple human qualities. OBOZ.UA tells what the "Iron General" Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for.

General Valerii Zaluzhnyi was well known to everyone who was at least a little interested in military issues since the ATO and JFO. However, he became commander-in-chief only in 2021, and after the full-scale Russian invasion, the whole world started talking about Zaluzhnyi.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

Childhood and education

Zaluzhnyi was born into a military family in Zviahel, Zhytomyr region, so he spent his childhood in a garrison among the military. The future "Iron General" studied at the local school No. 9. At the first lesson, when his teacher asked him about his dreams for the future, little Zaluzhnyi confidently said, "I will become a soldier. I will defend our country."

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

After graduating from the Novohrad-Volyn Machine-Building College, he entered the General Military Faculty of the Odesa Institute of Land Forces.

Military career

In 1997, he graduated from the institute with honors, after which he went through all the stages of military service . Zaluzhnyi served as a platoon commander, training platoon commander, combat platoon commander, training company commander, cadet company commander, and battalion commander.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

He continued his studies at the National Defense Academy, graduating in 2007 with a gold medal for studying the use of mechanized tank formations.

Between 2007 and 2009, he served as Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade of the 13th Army Corps of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Lviv region. From 2009 to 2012, he commanded the 51st Separate Mechanized Brigade.

In 2014, Zaluzhnyi was recognized as the best graduate of the operational and strategic level of training at the Cherniakhovskyi National Defense University of Ukraine, for which he received the Queen's Transitional Sword of the United Kingdom.

War with Russia and leadership positions in the army

Zaluzhnyi has been involved in the fighting in Donbas since 2014. In 2017, he was appointed Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander of the troops of the Operational Command "West" of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

On August 24, 2017, he was promoted to the rank of Major General.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

In 2018, Zaluzhnyi became the Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, First Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces.

"For me, the war began in mid-July 2014 when I was appointed deputy commander of Sector C, which was being formed in the Donetsk region. Since then, I have led almost all the groups that were created. I reached the position of Chief of Staff of the Joint Forces," Zaluzhnyi told Army.inform in 2020.

It is worth noting that under his leadership, the troops successfully liberated Pivdenne from the Russian occupiers and advanced to Volnovakha.

Already in 2019, Zaluzhnyi became the commander of the operational command "North". On July 27, 2021, Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Valerii Zaluzhnyi as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He replaced Ruslan Khomchak in this position.

Full-scale Russian invasion

Since the beginning of the great war in 2022, Ukrainian defenders have managed to stop the advance of more than 100 enemy battalion tactical groups in nine directions. In addition, they managed to liberate Kyiv and Kharkiv regions, as well as the occupied regional center of Kherson.

These operations were commanded by Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and his staff. After World War II, there had never been a military campaign of this scale and intensity in history.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

Zaluzhnyi's efforts were appreciated by both the military and civilian Ukrainians and even the West. He has become a true symbol of the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the most difficult times of war.

For example, on September 26, 2022, the reputable Time magazine put a portrait of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on the cover, captioning his photo very succinctly, "General". According to the magazine, the Ukrainian army would hardly have achieved such success without its commander.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

It has been noted that it was General Zaluzhnyi's extraordinary decisions on how to conduct combat operations that helped Ukraine turn the tide of the war in its favor.

Retired British Colonel Glen Grant said that it was Zaluzhnyi who was able to unite the military and became a great motivator for the entire Ukrainian nation.

In addition, in 2022, Zaluzhnyi was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time.

Moreover, back in April 2022, after the defeat of the occupation forces in the Kyiv region, which Western analysts dubbed "brilliant," Zaluzhnyi received the "title" of "Iron General" from Politico journalists, which has since been inextricably associated with the Ukrainian commander-in-chief.

In its analytical material, Politico noted that "the commander will become a legendary figure in Ukrainian history. After all, the success of the Ukrainian army has surprised the world."

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

Interesting facts

Several streets in different cities of Ukraine are named after Zaluzhnyi. On May 28, 2022, in the city of Pokrov, Dnipro region, Horkyi Street was renamed Valerii Zaluzhnyi Street. And on June 9, 2022, in the village of Stara Syniava, Heorhii Zhukov Street was renamed General Zaluzhnyi Street.

In January last year, Zaluzhnyi received a $1 million inheritance from the United States, donating all the money to the Ukrainian army.

As a reminder, the President appointed Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as the new commander-in-chief.

He led the Ukrainian Army during the most difficult period of independent history: what ''Iron General'' Zaluzhnyi will be remembered for

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