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CNN: Zelensky set to dismiss Zaluzhnyi this week

by Rachel Amran February 1, 2024 4:08 AM 3 min read
Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi during his visit to front-line positions in the south and east in January 2024. (Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces /Telegram)
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Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is reportedly set to dismiss Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi following weeks of speculation of a potential rift between the two leaders, CNN reported on Jan. 31 citing unnamed sources.

According to reports, Zaluzhnyi was called to a meeting at the President’s Office on Jan. 30 and told he was being fired.

No official presidential decree has been published and Zaluzhnyi was still officially in the post as of Jan. 31. CNN reports that an official announcement of his dismissal is expected by the end of the week.

Ukrainian media, including the Kyiv Independent, have been trying to confirm the news about Ukraine's top commander's firing. The sources, all speaking on condition of anonymity, have been providing contradicting responses.

A Kyiv Independent source in the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces confirmed earlier this week that Zaluzhnyi was fired. The source wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Zelensky's spokesman Sergii Nykyforov then told the Kyiv Independent at 7:50 p.m. on Jan. 29 that Zaluzhnyi wasn't dismissed.

The news was first reported in the early evening of Jan. 29 by a group of anonymous Telegram channels, including some that have reported insider information coming from the Presidential Office of Ukraine before. At the same time, Telegram channels have been known to report misleading stories and spread misinformation.

Are Zelensky and his top general really in discord?
Editor’s Note: This story initially mistakenly said that President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi haven’t been seen together in public in two months. It was corrected since the two were seen together in public more recently. After successfully taking Ukraine through the…

Zaluzhnyi served as Commander-in-Chief since July 2021. Reports first surfaced in November 2023 about disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi.

The alleged disagreement between the two received increased attention following Zaluzhnyi's interview on the state of the war for The Economist on Nov. 1, in which he said there was a danger that Ukraine was walking into the trap of a prolonged war.

Zelensky said he disagreed with this sentiment during a briefing on Nov. 4.

Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda then reported on Dec. 4 that Zelensky was allegedly "bypassing" Zaluzhnyi in communication with some military commanders, citing anonymous sources.

President Zelensky said during a press conference on Dec. 19 that he has a "working relationship" with Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, responding to a question about their alleged dispute.

"He and the General Staff (of Ukraine's Armed Forces) are responsible for the situation on the battlefield. There are many issues to address there," Zelensky said during a press conference.

A December 2023 poll found that 43% of Ukrainians believe that there may be some disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi, but only 8% believed the situation was very serious.

The poll also showed that Zaluzhnyi has a 92% trust rating, making him the country's most trusted military leader, and that an overwhelming majority (72%) of Ukrainians would disapprove of him being replaced.

Media: Zelensky ‘bypassing’ Zaluzhnyi in communication with some commanders
President Volodymyr Zelensky is allegedly “bypassing” Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi in communication with some military commanders, complicating the latter’s ability to fully command Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Dec. 4, citing anonymous sources.
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