The replacement of Ukraine's commander-in-chief is the "internal decision" of President Volodymyr Zelensky, adding that the European Union will continue to support Ukraine regardless of the country's military leadership, a European Union spokesperson said on Feb. 9.
“The replacement of the commander in chief is an internal decision of Ukraine and it is actually the prerogative of the president," said Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for the EU Foreign Diplomatic Service.
"We are committed to supporting Ukraine as long as it takes and provide whatever it takes regardless of who leads Ukraine's armed forces.”
The EU official's remarks mirror those made by John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council who said Zelensky, "gets to decide who his leadership is going to be in the military," adding, "that's what civilian control (over the military) is all about."
Kirby made those comments hours after Zelensky dismissed Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and appointed General Oleksandr Syrskyi in his place.
After months of reports surrounding divisions within Ukraine's political and military circles, Zaluzhnyi's removal comes as Zelensky seeks to revitalize both political and military leadership roles two years into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Shortly after new Commander-in-Chief Syrskyi's appointment, Zelensky also announced the replacement of the chief of general staff for Ukraine's Armed Forces.
The relationship between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi was increasingly rumored to have been strained, particularly after Nov. 1, when Zaluzhnyi gave an interview to The Economist in which he described a potential “trap” of a prolonged war.
A December 2023 poll found that an overwhelming majority (72%) of Ukrainians would disapprove of Zaluzhnyi’s resignation.