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The rift between the Ukrainian leader and his top general has grown over the failed counteroffensive and Zaluzhny’s perceived political ambitions

President Vladimir Zelensky is planning a “serious” overhaul of the country’s leadership team, he told Italy’s RAI TG1 news channel, when asked about his reported plan to fire Ukrainian military commander General Valery Zaluzhny.

Tensions between the Ukrainian president and his top general have grown since last year, with numerous reports over the past week suggesting Zaluzhny would soon be relieved of his post. In the interview published on Sunday, Zelensky addressed the rumors for the first time.

“When we talk about this, I mean a replacement of a series of state leaders, not just in a single sector like the military,” he explained, arguing, “If we want to win, we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory. We cannot be discouraged.”

Definitely a reset, a new beginning is necessary.

“I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership,” Zelensky concluded, without elaborating further on any possible personnel shakeup within his administration. 

The president appeared to be alluding to a lack of “positive energy” in his top general, who on Thursday called for a “wholesale redesign of battlefield operations – and the abandoning of outdated, stereotypical thinking” in an op-ed published by CNN. Zelensky has publicly criticized Zaluzhny’s characterization of the conflict as a “stalemate” in a November interview.

However, in Sunday’s interview, Zelensky acknowledged to TG1 that there was indeed a “stalemate” in the “war on the ground,” even echoing Zaluzhny’s call for “modern technical means” to continue the fight against Russia. “Ammunition is not enough,” he claimed.

Zelensky reportedly warned US President Joe Biden’s administration in advance that he planned to fire Zaluzhny, news the White House took in stride, showing neither support nor opposition, according to inside sources who spoke to the Washington Post.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed to CBS on Sunday that it was not Washington’s place to “get embroiled” in “personnel decisions” like Zaluzhny’s dismissal. “That is not something the US government should be weighing in on one way or the other,” Sullivan told the network.

Zelensky has yet to formally dismiss the general and has not yet even chosen a replacement for Zaluzhny, according to an unnamed senior official at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense cited by the Post. Sources told the news outlet Zelensky was searching for a suitable new position for his military commander in the hope of “tempering public disapproval” over his ouster.

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