Top Ukrainian General’s Conflict With Zelensky On Display In CNN Op-Ed

Published February 3, 2024

Amid persistent more-than-rumors that Ukraine’s President Zelensky is trying to fire his defense chief, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhny, CNN has given the embattled general op-ed space to speak some things that are certain to pour fuel to the fire.

Prior international reports, including in CNN, said that on Monday Zelensky asked his top general to step down. Zaluzhny reportedly refused. We earlier asked the question, is there a brewing mutiny as the split between the military leadership and Zelensky administration grows wider?

In Zaluzhny’s CNN op-ed, published late in the day Thursday, the top general has continued saying things which run afoul of Zelensky’s more positive, rosy narrative as the latter desperately tries to attract more Western weaponry and funding, at a moment many European nations are struggling with depleted domestic stockpiles.

“We must contend with a reduction in military support from key allies, grappling with their own political tensions,” Zaluzhny writes. “Our partners’ stocks of missiles, air defense interceptors and ammunition for artillery is becoming exhausted, due to the intensity of hostilities in Ukraine, but also from a global shortage of propellant charges.”

“Russia, taking note of how developments in the Middle East have distracted international attention, might seek to provoke further conflicts elsewhere,” he concludes further, echoing things Zelensky has also acknowledged.

Perhaps Ukraine is preparing for the deeply unpopular (unpopular especially among Ukrainians) move for a new mass mobilization? The general’s words hint at this

We must acknowledge the significant advantage enjoyed by the enemy in mobilizing human resources and how that compares with the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures.

But again, this is sure to rile his boss Zelensky, given it comes off as a deep criticism of the Ukrainian government’s leadership and capabilities (“inability of state institutions… to improve the manpower levels…”).

And here is more from Zaluzhny’s op-ed, where he offers further self-critique of the state of readiness of the nation:

Finally, we remain hamstrung by the imperfections of the regulatory framework in our country, as well as the partial monopolization of the defense industry. These lead to production bottlenecks – in ammunition, for instance – which further deepen Ukraine’s dependence on its allies for supplies.



RELATED: The Most Popular Man in Ukraine Has Become a Problem for Zelenskiy

The president has tried — and so far failed — to push out his commander-in-chief in a dispute over strategy and political insecurities 

Published February 3, 2024

(Bloomberg) — General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi is a national hero for Ukrainians after repelling the first wave of Vladimir Putin’s invasion on the outskirts of Kyiv.

But two years into the war, setbacks on the battlefield and political jealousies in the capital have soured his relationship with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. This week, the president tried — and failed — to force out his commander-in-chief, pulling back the curtain on a damaging rift at the heart of the Ukraine war effort.

Their dispute helps explain the indecision over military strategy that is worrying officials in Washington and adds an unwanted element of uncertainty at a point when US military aid hangs in the balance, troops are running dangerously short on ammunition and Russia is on the offensive again.

Zelenskiy could just fire his general, and that may well be the end game. One senior European diplomat who speaks regularly to Zelenskiy’s team said they thought it most likely Zaluzhnyi would be dismissed and worried about the signal it would send to Ukraine’s allies. The commander met with his boss for a regular military planning discussion on Friday evening.

Their dispute comes at a delicate moment for the president and ousting Zaluzhnyi would be certain to hurt morale among both troops and civilians.

“If it weren’t for Zaluzhnyi, we would all be speaking Russian already,” said Yevhen, a 38-year-old soldier serving on the front lines in southern Ukraine, who asked not to have his full name cited due to security concerns. “If Zaluzhnyi is fired, there could be a riot.”

The 50-year-old general’s appeal is partly down to the deep respect for the military in a country under attack. But Ukrainians also like the way he’s stayed focused on his job rather than building a public profile. And they love his disdain for the country’s old Soviet ways.



RELATED: Ukraine recap: Zelensky battles corruption and a major row with his commander-in-chief

At loggerheads: Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and army commander Valeriy Zaluzhny. EPA-EFE/Michael Reynolds/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Published February 2, 2024

The Russian winter offensive flagged here a fortnight ago appears to be under way, according to the Institute for the Study of War, which has noted operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts resulting in small Russian gains of territory. Ukrainian intelligence reports that the aim is to push towards Kharkiv while occupying the whole administrative areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

But the feeling is that Russia is unlikely to be able to fulfil this ambition. Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, or GUR, said he expected Russian forces would be “completely exhausted” by spring. As ever, the key will be whether Ukraine can obtain enough ammunition to survive until then. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, the EU is expected to deliver only just over half the 1 million shells it has promised Ukraine by March 1.

Meanwhile, both the EU and US have been struggling to get their aid packages agreed – although it has been reported that Hungarian president Viktor Orbán has bowed to pressure from other EU members and agreed not to obstruct their €50 billion (£42.7 billion) military aid package. But this leaves the US president, Joe Biden, trying to find ways to convince recalcitrant Republican senators to fall into line over his plans to provide Ukraine with US$60 billion (£47.3 billion) of military aid.

It has been reported that Biden has managed to circumvent the senate by giving Greece a large cache of older surplus weapons, with the understanding that Greece then passes on its own surplus weaponry to Ukraine – a variation of what is known as Germany’s Ringtausch (ring transfer) programme, by which it supplied tanks to Ukraine via Slovakia, circumventing its own security policy.





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Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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