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Media: Zelensky 'bypassing' Zaluzhnyi in communication with some commanders

by Martin Fornusek December 4, 2023 12:23 PM 2 min read
Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi at the funeral of a Ukrainian soldier in early March 2023 in Kyiv. (Yurii Stefanyak/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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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.

The news comes amid speculation in Western and Ukrainian media about alleged disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi, which have received a lot of public attention following Zaluzhnyi's sobering op-ed on the state of the war for The Economist.

Instead of directly communicating with Zaluzhnyi, the president maintains parallel communication lines with chiefs of some military branches, such as Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi or Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk, sources told the news outlet.

Zaluzhnyi allegedly receives some information from his subordinates only at the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Headquarters meetings.

"There is an impression that Zelensky has divided the Armed Forces into two groups: the 'good' one commanded by Syrskyi and other favorites, and the 'bad' one subordinate to Zaluzhnyi," a person from Zaluzhnyi's inner circle told Ukrainska Pravda.

"This greatly demotivates the commander-in-chief and, most importantly, prevents him from commanding the entire military."

Ukrainska Pravda's sources claim that Zelensky sometimes makes decisions in military matters guided by political reasons.

One named example was the president's dismissal of all regional enlistment officers following reports of extensive corruption.

This caused friction with Zaluzhnyi who, while acknowledging the need to fight corruption, pointed out issues with mobilization efforts, one of the sources told Ukrainska Pravda.

What appeared to be a quick and decisive move from a political point of view reportedly had complex consequences in the military sphere.

Recent personnel changes, such as the replacement of Special Operations Forces commander Viktor Khorenko, had a similar effect, Ukrainska Pravda wrote.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify the claims.

Zaluzhnyi: Ukraine must escape from ‘trap’ of prolonged war
Ukraine needs specific support from the West now that the war is in danger of moving to a “positional” stage, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, wrote in an opinion piece for the Economist on Nov. 1.

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