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Former British Army Colonel: Syrskyi is 'forceful general' who will capably steer Ukraine through 'tough times ahead'

Oleksandr Syrskyi
Oleksandr Syrskyi

Battle-hardened General Oleksandr Syrskyi “will stop at nothing” to defend Ukraine against the Russian onslaught, former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp told The Sun on Feb. 9, calling the new commander-in-chief a “forceful commander.”

"Like his predecessor Zaluzhnyi, he will devote every sinew to his country’s defense."

Colonel Kemp has met both Zaluzhnyi and Syrskyi.

Read also: General Syrskyi is willing to engage the enemy, even if the cost in men and machines is high – the Economist

"Zaluzhnyi was a very, very popular and a very, very capable general,” he said.

"But I've also met Syrskyi and I would say the same of him. He may not enjoy the same level of popularity, but he's a very capable general. He is a forceful commander who will resist any efforts by his allies to drive him down any path he decides against. As a general, he is hugely professional and a driven man. He is clearly very intelligent, very focused, and very confident."

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi has led Ukraine's ground forces since 2019. He previously commanded Ukrainian troops fighting a Moscow-backed insurgency in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that began in 2014, and earned the call sign "Snow Leopard".

Read also: Germany’s highest-ranking military officers visit Kyiv at Zaluzhnyi’s invitation on day of his dismissal, meet Syrskyi

Since the full-scale invasion, Syrskyi has overseen some of Ukraine's mightiest battlefield victories.

"Although trained in the rigidly centralized Soviet command system, he implemented NATO devolved command methods in the Ukrainian forces which made a major contribution to Ukraine’s successes in 2022," Kemp said.

The retired army officer said Kyiv faces two major issues: chronic shortages in weapons and munitions and shortages in military manpower. It's up to Ukraine's political leadership to sort out the former and lobby Western nations to provide the military aid they desperately need. But the issue of new mobilization is an ‘’unpopular move” which Gen. Syrskyi will have to navigate carefully.

"Ukraine is now at a critical point," Kemp said as he feared the country will face many "tough days ahead."

"Russia's got the initiative at the moment,” warned Kemp.

“ Ukraine is now back in a position where it has to fight a defensive war. I think it's going to be a very tough time for Ukraine because Russia's built up very significant manpower. It's built up huge reserves of munitions, rockets, artillery shells and all forms of munitions. It's going to be hugely challenging for Ukraine unless it can somehow secure the supplies it needs from the West."

Zelenskyy had "sound reasons," whatever they may be, to remove a man that was "respected and admired across the population and armed forces," senior fellow at Chatham House's Russia program, Keir Giles, said commenting on Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal.

Read also: Ukraine's top general Zaluzhnyi at center of rumors after alleged removal request

Zaluzhnyi achieved an almost mythical status "after almost two years defending his country when many thought it was impossible".

However, Zelenskyy likely "felt a change of direction and strategy was needed. It signals a change in an approach to the war," he added.

On Feb. 8, Zelenskyy, by his decree, dismissed Valerii Zaluzhnyi from the position of the chief, which he held for over 2.5 years, appointing Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Oleksandr Syrskyi in his place.

Read also: Syrskyi makes his first statement as the Commander of the Armed Forces, main tasks outlined

Syrskyi outlined the following priorities:

  • Clear and detailed planning of all military administration actions taking into account the needs of the front in the latest weapons, the “fastest and the most rational” distribution of everything necessary for combat units

  • Availability of information about all the needs of the front and the situation in each its area

  • Maintaining a balance between the performance of combat missions and the restoration of units, and units with enhanced trainings

  • Introduction of new technical solutions and scaling of unmanned systems and means of electronic warfare (EW) use

Zelenskyy also announced that the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine would be renewed. According to him, this is being done to take into account the experience of combat commanders, reboot the leadership, and change approaches to troop rotation, front management, mobilization, and recruitment.

The President announced the decision after a week of rumors about Zaluzhnyi’s resignation and reports of conflict with the chief, which began to reappear in November 2023 after two articles by Time and The Economist, as well as by a series of subsequent events.

WP earlier reported that the possible reason for Zaluzhnyi’s resignation could be differences over different views on mobilization in Ukraine.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi was awarded the title Hero of Ukraine.

Read also: Zelenskyy overhauls Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, reshuffles top military leadership

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine