Investigating sexual violence as war crimes — "He Came Back"
Our War Crimes Investigations Unit released its new documentary, “He Came Back”. The film is about two cases of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers during the occupation of Kherson and Kyiv oblasts in 2022 — and the process of identifying the offenders. Watch it on our YouTube channel.
Skip to content
Edit post

Zelensky replaces top commander at defense minister's request

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 4, 2023 2:30 PM 2 min read
Rustem Umerov stands in the Ukrainian parliament during voting on his nomination as the Ukrainian defense minister in Kyiv on Sept. 6, 2023. (Andrii Nesterenko/AFP via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

Editor's note: The headline of this article originally said "Media: Zelensky replaces top commander at defense minister's request." The piece was updated when Defense Minister Rustem Umerov confirmed he had requested the replacement.  

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov confirmed on Nov. 4 that he had requested the replacement of Special Operations Forces commander Viktor Khorenko, which caused some confusion between the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces.

Khorenko is needed in a different job, and he would continue his service at the Defense Ministry, Umerov said on Facebook. "To comment additionally on the reasons and prerequisites for changing military leadership positions during the war is to give reasons to the enemy to weaken Ukraine."

After President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Khorenko on Nov. 3, replacing him with Serhii Lupanchuk, the ex-commander said he learned about his dismissal from the media and was surprised.

Khorenko told Ukrainska Pravda on Nov. 3 that he asked Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi about his dismissal, and Zaluzhnyi "couldn't explain it to him." According to Khorenko, Zaluzhnyi told him he didn't request his firing.

Khorenko implied that the normal procedure of firing him would require Zaluzhnyi to file a dismissal request to Zelensky, which didn't happen.

However, Roman Mashovets, deputy head of the presidential office, told Ukrainska Pravda on Nov. 4 that such a request came from Defense Minister Umerov, which complies with Ukraine's law on national security.

"The commanders of departments and separate branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are appointed and dismissed by the president of Ukraine at the request of the defense minister of Ukraine," Mashovets reportedly said.

"Such a submission was received by the presidential office in accordance with the current legislation."

The dismissal of Khorenko comes after Zaluzhnyi published an op-ed with a sobering outlook on the state of the war.

In his evening address on Nov. 3, Zelensky described Khorenko's replacement Lupanchuk as an "experienced officer and the right person to give our Special Operations Forces more power."

Khorenko will "continue to carry out special tasks as part of the Main Directorate of Intelligence" within the Defense Ministry, Zelensky said.

Zelensky appoints new head of Special Operations Forces
President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Brigadier General Viktor Khorenko from his role as the commander of the Special Operations Forces (SOF), according to a presidential decree published online on Nov. 3.
Before you skip this banner, we want to tell you something…

The Kyiv Independent doesn’t depend on a wealthy owner or an oligarch — in 2023, 80% of our revenue was from reader contributions . It’s thanks to them that we don’t have to rely on a single owner.

Support us now and help maintain our independent model and keep our articles free for everyone. Your contributions allow us to cover journalists’ salaries, report from the front lines, and fund projects like our War Crimes Investigations Unit.

visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

12:54 AM

Germany blocks sanctions on Russian gas.

European Union countries failed to approve a new sanctions package targeting the Russian gas industry after German authorities intervened to block the deal at the last minute.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
4:11 PM

Putin names ceasefire demands, including Kyiv's complete withdrawal from four Ukrainian regions.

Speaking on the eve of the global peace summit in Switzerland on June 15-16, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukrainian troops must leave Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and Kyiv must abandon any ambition to join NATO. Russia doesn't aim for peace, but for the continuation of the war, the occupation of Ukraine, and the destruction of Ukrainian people, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement.
12:36 PM

Ukraine retrieves bodies of 254 fallen soldiers.

The Geneva Conventions dictate that people who lost their lives during war are entitled to a dignified burial. Over 2,400 fallen soldiers have been repatriated to Ukraine in the last two years.
10:36 AM

Ukraine preparing 10 more bilateral security agreements, Zelensky says.

Over 30 countries have joined the Group of Seven (G7) Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine so far. The U.S. and Japan joined 15 other countries on June 13, including the U.K., Germany, and France, that have signed similar bilateral treaties to help Kyiv repel Russia's aggression.

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.