Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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Zelensky vs. Zaluzhny

FILE PHOTO: DECEMBER 26, 2023 - Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi holds a press conference in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.

FILE PHOTO: DECEMBER 26, 2023 - Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi holds a press conference in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.

Kaniuka Ruslan/Ukrinform/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his top military commander Gen. Valery Zaluzhny that he would be dismissed.

Over the last few months, Zelensky and Zaluzhny’s relationship has soured over strategic differences on the battlefield and suspicions that the general is gunning for the president’s job.


Who is Zaluzhny? One of the most popular military and political figures in Ukraine, for one. He has strong relationships with Western leaders, often allowing him to advocate directly for specific military supplies and ask for strategic advice. Although Zaluzhny has claimed he has no political ambitions, polls repeatedly show him as more popular than the president.

Why it matters: Ousting one of the most popular figures in Ukraine is a risky move for Zelensky, and could mark a turning point in the war.

After Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive, the war appears stuck in stalemate, and Kyiv faces uncertainty over the degree of foreign support it can expect to receive. Zaluzhny is refusing to vacate his post, and if he continues to put up a fight, friction among the top brass could deter Ukraine’s allies from continuing to support the war effort.

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