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Zaluzhnyi was dismissed after two years of fierce struggle: Western media named 5 possible reasons for his replacement

Journalists consider the general's resignation a "political adventure"

The resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, has become one of the top topics in the Western media. Journalists are trying to find out the possible reasons for the dismissal, of which there are five main ones.

These include disputes with partners, the failure of the summer counteroffensive, and even the possible political ambitions of the "iron general." Read what could have influenced President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's decision to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in OBOZ.UA's review of Western publications.

Unjustified expectations from the counteroffensive and the transition to NATO standards

According to the American newspaper The Hill, Zaluzhnyi's dismissal was "the biggest shakeup in Ukraine's military cabinet" since the Russian invasion in 2022. Defense policy expert and Cornell University professor David Silby told the newspaper that Zaluzhnyi "appears to be taking responsibility for the failure of Ukraine's fall offensive."

"The heavy casualties that have accompanied trench warfare have deprived Ukraine of troops, and the political struggle in the United States is jeopardizing material support for the Ukrainian war effort. Zelenskyy cannot control any of this, but he can control those who command Ukrainian forces, and that is why he fired Zaluzhnyi. This is more a sign of desperation than calculation," Silby said.

At the same time, Austrian military analyst Tom Cooper suggested in a conversation with Politico that Zaluzhnyi was criticized for not completing the transformation of the army into a Western-style force, not improving logistics, and failing to rotate away from the front line to give the troops a chance to rest and recover, rather than leaving them in the trenches for the entire war.

Disputes over the counteroffensive with partners

Zaluzhnyi had a strained relationship with Washington after he and US military leaders disagreed on how to conduct a summer 2023 counteroffensive, Politico reports.

The Pentagon insisted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces deliver a major strike, focusing on one area where planners believed a breakthrough was possible. Instead, Kyiv opted for several attacks along the entire front, believing that this would make it difficult for Russian troops to reinforce in many areas.

After several weeks of discussions, "as the offensive progressed, it became pretty clear that the Ukrainians simply weren't interested in U.S. advice, and they generally concluded that we had nothing to offer them in terms of advice," a "person who advised the White House on military matters" told the newspaper.

The argument, according to the adviser, was that the United States has no experience in fighting the war that the Ukrainians are fighting, and while U.S. advice is welcome, it may also go unheard.

While the blame for these disagreements fell solely on Zaluzhnyi's shoulders, he was also "cut off by Zelenskyy," who had the final say in military matters, "and so the US was yelling at the wrong person," the adviser said.

He considered Zelenskyy's instructions unrealizable

The Western press cites the reasons for Zaluzhnyi's dismissal as the fact that the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief considered Zelenskyi's instructions unrealizable, and also negotiated without coordinating with the Defense Ministry and did not present an action plan for the Armed Forces for 2024.

According to The Times' source, after rumors of Zaluzhnyi's dismissal surfaced, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov in Kyiv on January 31.

During this meeting, Umerov explained the reasons for Zaluzhnyi's dismissal, stating that the President's Office was dissatisfied with the general's failure to provide plans for his military campaign for 2024.

Zaluzhnyi also said that he was skeptical of Zelenskyi's orders and public statements, considering them unrealistic and that he directly negotiated with allies for weapons supplies, excluding the Defense Ministry from the process.

The sources also said that Nuland was unhappy with the intention to fire Zaluzhnyi and offered to smooth out the misunderstanding, contrary to Washington's official position that it would not interfere in the decision, which is the sovereign right of the president of Ukraine.

Zaluzhnyi's possible political ambitions

The British newspaper The Guardian called Zelenskyy's decision a risky move, given Zaluzhnyy's high support ratings among Ukrainians. Thus, political opponents of the current head of state criticized him for being unclear about the reasons for Zaluzhnyi's replacement and suggested that the decision could have been motivated by fear of Zaluzhnyi's popularity rather than operational problems.

Although Zaluzhnyi has never stated any political ambitions, many of Zelenskyy's opponents see him as a potential figure to unite around and believe he would have a future in politics if he wanted to. If the situation on the frontline continues to deteriorate after his resignation, Zaluzhnyi's support is likely to grow, the newspaper writes.

Syrskyi's proximity to the Presidential Office

The British newspaper The Financial Times called Oleksandr Syrskyi, who replaced Zaluzhnyi, close to the Presidential Office.

According to the authors of the article, some Western officials and analysts advising Washington have also expressed concerns about Syrsky's decision-making since February 2022 and his ability to resist political interference in operational matters.

As OBOZ.UA reported earlier, according to the Washington Post, Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi did not trust each other, and the last and main factor in the split was allegedly the general's request to mobilize more people.

On February 8, Zelenskyy dismissed Zaluzhnyi from the post of commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and appointed Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Armed Forces, to replace him. The president thanked Zaluzhnyi for "two years of defense" and said he had offered him to stay in the team.

According to Zelenskyy, 2024 can only be successful for Ukraine if there are effective changes in the defense sector.

The president voiced his expectations of the new commander-in-chief: the development of a detailed action plan for the Armed Forces for 2024, a fair redistribution of Western weapons between combat brigades, solving logistical problems, knowledge of the front by each general, a review of the number of staffs, an effective rotation system, trained soldiers on the contact line, and the appointment of a commander of the Unmanned Systems Forces.

On February 9, Syrskyi made his first statement as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, assuring that the lives of Ukrainian soldiers were and still are the main value.

After his resignation, Zaluzhnyi was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. The moment of awarding turned out to be emotional: the President and the General hugged each other twice during the presentation of the Golden Star Order.

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