The issue of disagreements between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaloghny is back at the forefront, with media reports earlier in the week suggesting that Washington and London pressured Zelensky to reverse the decision to fire Zaloghny. Highly popular among the leadership of the Ukrainian army.
The case was reportedly compromised and settled after most of the military leadership sided with Jalogni.
Zelensky met with Zalogny on Monday and asked him to submit his resignation, but he refused and others refused to accept the post, which forced the president to withdraw his decision, according to a report published by the British newspaper “The Times”. Tuesday, citing top officials.
The Ukrainian government told the White House on Friday that it plans to fire the country's most senior military commander overseeing the war against Russian forces, two sources familiar with the matter said, to reiterate differences between the two parties. The move was to oust General Valery Zalogny (50), who disagreed with Zelensky on many issues after last year's Ukrainian counteroffensive, which failed to recapture large swaths of Russian-held territory.
Zelensky informed presidential advisors that their assessment of the military situation was more favorable than actually happening regarding the summer counteroffensive and the military situation at the front in general, and Zalogny was asked to resign. The Times also reported that Zelensky was forced to rescind the decision under pressure from Washington, London and high-ranking military officials.
Zelensky said he would sign an order to fire him, when the Times report Zalogny refused. As potential successors refused to accept the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Zelensky was forced to rescind the dismissal decision and Zalogny continued in his post.
A source close to Zelenskyi's office said the two were at loggerheads over a new military mobilization campaign, as the president opposed Zalogny's plan to raise 500,000 new soldiers. Ukrainian armed forces are currently suspended while both sides work out their next steps. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was quoted by Reuters as saying it was unclear how long the process would take.
A second informed source said the White House had not expressed a position on the plan to replace Zalogny. The Washington Post first reported that Ukraine had informed the White House of its plans to oust Zalogny. According to a source close to the Ukrainian president's office, U.S. officials have told Ukraine they are not opposed to Zalogny's removal. The source added: “Ukraine agrees to expel him.”
He continued: “Currently, both parties (President and General) are suspended to decide what the future holds and the current situation will remain until further notice.” Friction between Zelensky and Zaloghny over mobilization is related to the president's opinion that the army has enough personnel and can be used more efficiently, the source said. He added: “Zalozhiny urges the mobilization of half a million people. Zelensky believes that this is not necessary now.
Zalogny, known as the “Iron General”, is well-known and his dismissal could damage the morale of Ukrainian forces struggling to hold positions along a front line of more than 1,000 kilometers against a massive Russian force armed with large-scale ammunition. Ukrainian forces are suffering from a critical shortage of ammunition, and a dispute between the White House and some Republican members of the House of Representatives is blocking approval of a new aid package.
In an article published on Thursday, Ukrainian army chief Valery Salukny said a drop in foreign aid could force Ukraine to change its military strategy. Zalogny said in an opinion piece for CNN that Ukraine's key allies are “in conflict” over future support for Kiev. “We have to deal with reducing military support from key allies who are mired in disputes related to their own political tensions,” Jalogni added. Zalogny also noted that Ukraine cannot increase the strength of its military unless lawmakers take “unpopular” steps to mobilize more troops, a contentious issue in Ukraine. The Ukrainian army asked Zelensky to recruit an additional half a million men to replace the tired soldiers who had served so long at the front against 600,000 Russian soldiers. But in January, amid fierce criticism from the Ukrainian people and their representatives, parliament refused to debate a draft law aimed at mobilizing more troops.
On the other hand, Washington accused the Kremlin of inciting Kiev to continue the war after US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state TV reporter Pavel Sarobin, posted on Telegram on Saturday: “The Americans are causing more pain to Ukrainians, and they are working on the death of more Ukrainians.” Peskov added that the United States is a direct party to the conflict and is heavily involved in it, but he hoped that this would not affect the outcome of the war.
Nuland arrived in Kiev last Wednesday to hold meetings with Ukrainian government leaders, war veterans and representatives of civil society in the former Soviet republic.