“The ZSU under Zaluzhny survived the initial Russian onslaught. Alone that was a great achievement — because almost everybody, and thus [Russian President Vladimir] Putin too, expected the ZSU to fold and run away,” said
Austrian military analyst Tom Cooper.
But his record was tarnished by the failure of last year’s counteroffensive, which ran into well-prepared Russians defenses.
The president and his top general increasingly differed over strategy and also clashed over Zaluzhny’s growing popularity, which made him a potential political threat to Zelenskyy.
Zaluzhny has pressed for a new conscription law that would increase the size of the military, but the legislation is politically fraught and Zelenskyy has taken a hands-off attitude.
Zaluzhny has also taken an increasingly grim view of the war, which clashes with Zelenskyy’s effort to show that Ukraine is making good progress as a way of ensuring Kyiv’s allies stay committed.
In an essay for the Economist last year that infuriated Zelenskyy, Zaluzhny compared the state of the conflict to a stalemate like the First World War.
Zaluzhny was appointed commander-in-chief in July 2021, just half a year before Russia launched its all-out invasion.
He has tried to break with Ukraine’s Soviet military traditions and bring Ukraine into line with NATO standards. He also called on Ukraine to leverage its advantage in areas like drone warfare to make up for Russia’s superiority in men and weapons.