This amounts to the most serious shakeup of the top military brass since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelennskyy on Thursday told the country’s top general that it was time for him to step down, arguing that the time had come for “a renewal”.
In a statement, Zelenskyy wrote that he told Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi during a meeting that he is “grateful” for his two years of service and that the two had discussed “who could be part of the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
“The time for such a renewal is now,” he added.
The post on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows the two men shaking hands and smiling.
Zelenskyy said that he hopes Zaluzhnyi will continue to be part of the country’s state team.
The Ukrainian leader also said he has appointed Сol. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, to lead the army. Syrskyi, 58, has since 2013 been involved in the Ukrainian army’s effort to adopt NATO standards.
Zaluzhnyi, in a Telegram message, did not announce he had stepped down but said he accepted that “everyone must change and adapt to new realities” and agreed that there is a “need to change approaches and strategy” in the war.
The statement followed days of speculation spurred by local media reports that Zelenskyy would sack Zaluzhnyi, a move that would amount to the most serious shake-up of the top military brass since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine near the city of Avdiivka, where soldiers are fighting from street to street as Russia’s army steps up its four-month campaign to surround Kyiv’s defending troops.