Legends of the Ukrainian army go into battle: who joined Syrskyi's "dream team" and why it was not without scandals
In early February, the country's military leadership underwent a dramatic change. On February 8, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, the head of state announced large-scale changes in leadership positions in the army.
These changes were not delayed, and within a few days after Syrskyi's appointment, personnel changes took place in the army. OBOZ.UA has collected information about the team of the new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
Prior to his appointment, Colonel General Syrskyi was the commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The fact that he held this position at the time of his appointment as commander-in-chief already indicated the beginning of large-scale personnel changes in the Ukrainian army.
Who was included in Syrskyi's "dream team"?
Commanded peacekeepers in Kosovo and liberated Sloviansk
Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavliuk was appointed as the new commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine instead of Oleksandr Syrskyi. He previously served as First Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Pavliuk has extensive military experience since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014.
He took an active part in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. It was under his command that a number of settlements were liberated, including Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Siversk and Lysychansk. In addition, the brigade under Pavliuk's command made a successful advance in the Luhansk sector with heavy fighting and unblocked the Luhansk airport.
Before the Russian aggression, Pavliuk commanded Ukrainian peacekeeping forces in Kosovo in 2006-2007. In an interview, the officer mentioned that the Ukrainian peacekeeping mission had successfully accomplished its tasks. Pavliuk noted that Ukrainian peacekeepers looked powerful against the background of all other countries.
During the introduction of the new commander to the personnel of the Land Forces, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Syrskyi said that when the president asked who would command the Land Forces, he did not even consider other candidates besides Pavliuk . In turn, the lieutenant general thanked the chief for his trust and expressed confidence that mutual support is the key to strengthening the army and bringing victory over the aggressor closer.
An innovator and combat general who knows Syrsky well
Major General Anatoliy Bargylevych was appointed to the post of Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine instead of Lieutenant General Serhiy Shaptala. He previously headed the Territorial Defense Forces.
It is noteworthy that Bargylevych was actually the first commander of the territorial defense. Back in 2020, it was under his leadership that the then-innovative system of terrorist defense troops began to be created and developed.
It should also be noted that Major General Bargylevych took an active part in the fighting at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. In particular, he led the defense of Kyiv in the Gostomel direction. Together with thousands of other territorial defense soldiers, Major General Bargylevych prevented the aggressor from capturing the Ukrainian capital.
Bargylevych was then appointed chief of staff of the Khortytsia operational and strategic grouping of troops, and he held this position for almost a year and a half. At the same time, Syrskyi was the commander of the Khortytsia Joint Task Force, so the new chief of staff and the head of the General Staff have known each other for a long time.
It is worth noting that the troops of the Khortytsia Operational and Strategic Grouping conducted a number of outstanding military operations, including successful counteroffensives in the Kharkiv sector.
Hero of Ukraine who successfully led soldiers out of Volnovakha
Instead of Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev, Hero of Ukraine Yuriy Sodol has been appointed as the new commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Like the previous generals, he has been actively involved in combat operations since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014.
During the ATO, Sodol was the commander of the 25th separate airborne brigade. His men were in the hottest spots of the frontline. Sodol's brigade participated in the battles for Rubizhne, Yampil and Donetsk airport.
In 2015, Yuriy Sodol was appointed First Deputy Commander of the Air Assault Troops, where he continued to fight in the ATO zone.
The President awarded him the title of Hero of Ukraine for his battles in Volnovakha, Donetsk region. Sodol withdrew his personnel from the enemy attack and organized a successful counteroffensive.
Due to his personal and professional qualities, Sodol is an authority among the military. The defenders said that General Yuriy Sodol is someone they would not hesitate to follow into the fiercest battle, because they know that they will fight side by side with their commander.
An experienced assault pilot, Hero of Ukraine
Ihor Skybyuk has been appointed commander of the Air Assault Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He replaced Maksym Myrhorodskyi in this position. Like many other Ukrainian generals, Skybyuk has combat experience.
It is noteworthy that back in the 90s, he took an active part in international exercises and achieved significant achievements in this area. In 2016, Skibiuk commanded Ukrainian units in the Maple Arch 2016 exercise.
After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Skybyuk continued to defend the territorial integrity of our country. In the fall of 2022, he commanded his brigade's units during search-and-strike operations to destroy the enemy in the direction of the cities of Balakliia, Izyum, and Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region. It was thanks to clear, timely combat orders and the determination of the brigade's units under Skibiuk's leadership that liberated a number of settlements in eastern Ukraine from the occupiers.
In 2023, he held the position of Chief of Staff - Deputy Commander of the Airborne Assault Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and on February 11, 2024, he was appointed commander of these troops. Ihor Skybyuk has been awarded the highest military honors, including the title of Hero of Ukraine and the Orders of Bohdan Khmelnytsky of the second and third degrees.
General with a "skeleton in the closet"
Ihor Plakhuta has been appointed the new head of the Armed Forces of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces. He replaced Anatoliy Bargylevych, who was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
After Plakhuta's appointment, some civic activists immediately tried to discredit him, reminding him that during Euromaidan he was in charge of the Interior Ministry's internal troops and was allegedly involved in the dispersal of protesters.
But after that, many Ukrainian soldiers defended the general and called on the public not to discredit his person. The soldiers recorded a video saying that Plakhuta is fully dedicated to protecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"He is demanding of himself and his environment. That's why he headed one of the main branches of the military - the Territorial Defence. He did not execute any criminal orders. It's an honor to serve with such people next to him," the soldiers said of Plakhuta.
The Territorial Defense Forces noted that from the first days of the full-scale war, Plakhuta was at the front, directly on the front line, including in difficult areas. For almost a year, he served as the deputy commander of the Khortytsia operational and strategic group of troops, in particular, he personally led the preparation and defense of the city of Kupyansk under constant enemy fire.
The officer also supervised the preparation of defense lines and their fortification equipment, the construction of an operational defense line and a circular defense of the city. Plakhuta organized and led the formation and training of reserves for frontline operations, which provided the troops with an advantage in the fight against the aggressor.
A living legend of the Ukrainian army
Colonel Vadym Sukharevskyi, nicknamed "Badger," has been appointed as one of the new deputies of the new Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In his new position, he will be responsible for the direction of unmanned systems and the development of the use of drones.
He became famous for being the first officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to open fire on the Russian invaders under his command . Moreover, Sukharevsky's order "If you see it, shoot it!" became the battle cry of the 503rd Separate Marine Battalion in 2016.
Many Ukrainian soldiers say that Sukharevskyi is characterized by professionalism and a remarkable ability to make correct and balanced decisions in difficult situations.
It is noteworthy that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree creating a new separate branch of the Armed Forces - the Unmanned Systems Forces. Therefore, Sukharevskyi, who will be responsible for the direction of unmanned systems, faces a number of important tasks. Among them are the creation of special staff positions for working with drones, special units, systematization of experience, constant scaling of production, and attraction of the best ideas and specialists in this area.
"People's Hero of Ukraine" who led soldiers out of Izvaryne "hell"
Brigadier General Mykhailo Drapaty has been appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for training and education of the military. He has also been fighting against the Russian occupiers since 2014.
The officer led the operation to free hostages in the city police department of Mariupol, which was seized by separatists. Interestingly, Drapaty was personally at the wheel of the BMP that made the legendary breakthrough through the barricades.
In addition, Drapaty is known for being responsible for the operation to withdraw Ukrainian troops from the so-called Izvaryn Cauldron, where about 260 soldiers and more than three dozen pieces of equipment were surrounded.
As of 2021, Drapati served as Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, he became known as one of the commanders of the operation to liberate Kherson.
He was awarded the Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Order of the People's Hero of Ukraine for his military services. He also has the Cross of Military Awards.
Syrsky's team also included a number of other officers. Brigadier General Volodymyr Horbatiuk was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff. In this position, he will be responsible for the operational work of the headquarters, planning and management.
Oleksiy Shevchenko has been appointed another Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. He will be responsible for logistics. He served in command positions of artillery units as deputy chief of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Army Academy.
Andriy Lebedenko was appointed as the second deputy chief. The Head of State noted that the officer will be in charge of the technological component of the army and combat systems. It is worth noting that there is little information about this officer online. However, it is known that in 2022 he received the Order of Danylo Halytskyi.
As a reminder, the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, made his first statement after his appointment. He outlined the main tasks facing the Ukrainian army. The new chief also held his first meeting - together with Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, Syrskyi spoke with Bundeswehr Inspector General Carsten Breyer.