Ukraine faces ongoing challenges in its conflict with Russia. The situation is tough as Russian forces control large parts of Ukrainian land, causing significant suffering. The country is losing ground, and support from Western nations has dwindled.
Recently, Ukraine’s military leaders have shared troubling information, causing concern for President Zelensky. Military chief Valery Zaluzhny’s statement about needing 20,000 men per month for survival in the war stirred controversy in the Ukrainian parliament. This even prompted calls for his resignation.
Well let alone this wasn’t just the first time Zaluzhny made such a revelation. Even previously he mentioned that the conflict with Russia has reached a stalemate, describing it as bogged down in trenches. He highlighted the insufficiency of Western aid for Ukraine to succeed, which led to doubts from the West and a pause in further assistance to Kyiv. These revelations have added to Zelensky’s challenges.
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For quite some months now, there have been reports suggesting a strained relationship between Zaluzhny and President Zelensky. Allegedly, Zaluzhny expressed dissatisfaction with Zelensky’s decisions, notably when regional draft officials were dismissed due to a corruption scandal. This action led to a decline in conscription numbers across Ukraine, according to sources.
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Now to Ukraine, where the top military commander says efforts to retake land occupied by Russian forces have reached a stalemate. That obviously angered Ukraine’s president, who’s been giving fake hopes of victory to exhausted Ukrainians.
And it appears Zelensky is taking a more direct role in military affairs now. Recent reports indicate that Zelensky is attempting to bypass General Valery Zaluzhny by issuing commands directly to army commanders. This move suggests a shift in how military orders are being managed in Ukraine.
According to reports, Zaluzhny might not always be kept informed about military operations, relying on information from his subordinates. Tensions between Zelensky and the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces have persisted, aggravated by Kiev’s unsuccessful summer counteroffensive.
There are indications that President Zelensky has established separate communication channels with senior military figures like Aleksandr Syrsky and Nikolay Oleshchuk, disrupting the usual chain of command. While this approach might suit Zelensky’s office, it has reportedly led to disruptions that Zaluzhny finds concerning.
An insider highlighted “It seems that Zelensky has two kinds of the ZSU (Ukrainian armed forces): the ‘good’ guys commanded by Syrsky and other favorites, and the ‘bad’ guys who answer to Zaluzhny.”
Zelensky’s apparent shift in handling military matters may stem from concerns over General Valery Zaluzhny’s rising popularity, reportedly turning the military situation into a political matter. Insiders suggest that Zaluzhny’s popularity surpasses that of Zelensky, with a recent public opinion poll indicating that in a hypothetical election, Zelensky might lose to Zaluzhny in a second-round vote.
Recent sociological surveys echo this sentiment, indicating a higher trust level among Ukrainians for Commander-in-Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhny compared to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zaluzhny holds an 82% approval rating, while Zelensky stands at 72%. Additionally, 63% of citizens fully trust Zaluzhny, while 19% tend to trust him more. Conversely, for Zelensky, these figures are 39% and 33%, respectively. The data from “Rating” suggests a decline in Zelensky’s trust among citizens starting from July.
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According to reports from Ukrainskaya Pravda, tensions between Zelensky’s team, particularly Chief of Staff Andrey Yermak, and Zaluzhny have intensified since April 2022, driven by concerns over the general’s perceived political aspirations. Zelensky’s associates allegedly pushed Zaluzhny to abandon plans for a charitable initiative, fearing its potential evolution into a future political party.
Zaluzhny apparently raised concerns about civilian interference in military matters during a visit by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Kiev. Zelensky became aware of this, straining trust between them further. The strained relationship has resulted in a change in dynamics. Zelensky seems to have ceased direct arguments with Zaluzhny post-Austin’s visit.
There are suggestions that the divide between Zelensky and Zaluzhny is widening. Zelensky’s apprehension over Zaluzhny’s potential presidential candidacy appears to be driving efforts to sideline the general. Zaluzhny’s recent disclosure about Ukraine needing 20,000 men monthly in the war led to calls for his resignation from Ukrainian MPs. Well these acts are mere tactics employed by Zelensky, raising concerns about authoritarian tendencies aimed at consolidating power and sidelining opposition.