Zelensky fails to oust Ukrainian commander-in-chief in embarrassing climb-down

Kyiv, Ukraine - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tried to dismiss Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyi, but the general refused and others would not take his job, forcing a back-down, according to media reports.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (l.) tried and failed to dismiss Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyi.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (l.) tried and failed to dismiss Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyi.  © Collage: REUTERS & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

UK newspaper The Times reported on Tuesday that, according to high-ranking officers, Zaluzhnyi was called in for a personal meeting with Zelensky on Monday.

There, he told presidential advisors that their assessment of the military situation overly optimistic, which led to Zaluzhnyi being asked to resign.

When the four-star general refused, Zelensky said that he would sign a decree to dismiss him, the report said.

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But after potential successors declined the offer to take over the post of commander-in-chief, Zelensky was forced to back down and stick with Zaluzhnyi for the time being, the report added.

The Times also said that Zelensky was forced to reverse this decision under pressure from the US and the UK, as well as high-ranking military officials.

The Guardian also reported the attempted dismissal, citing opposition parliament members.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense had contradicted reports about the dismissal of Zaluzhnyi on Telegram Monday.

Relations between Zelensky and the 50-year-old have been considered strained for weeks in view of the failed counter-offensive against Russian forces.

Zaluzhnyi became commander-in-chief of the army a few months before the Russian invasion in February 2022. Under his command, the Ukrainian troops withstood the invasion and even recaptured some occupied territories.

He is popular with his soldiers and the population and was even rumored to have political ambitions, which he has denied.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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