Zelenskyy to convene Staff meeting to decide fate of Zaluzhnyi, rumored to be on the rocks – Butusov

Valerii Zaluzhnyi and Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Valerii Zaluzhnyi and Volodymyr Zelenskyy

A meeting of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff will be held in the near future to discuss the dismissal of Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and the appointment of new military leadership, journalist Yuriy Butusov said on Facebook on Feb. 2.

The text of the presidential decree on Zaluzhnyi's dismissal was allegedly prepared on Jan. 29. On that day, Zelenskyy invited Zaluzhnyi to voluntarily resign at a meeting with DefenseMinister Rustem Umerov, but the general refused to step down.

"Now Zelenskyy will discuss at the Staff the issue of changing a significant part of the top brass, including Zaluzhnyi," he wrote on Facebook.

The head of state is urging everyone to support his decision so that it is the united position of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff, said Butusov.

Read also: Zelenskyy to dismiss Ukrainian army chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi this week

"The President's Office fears possible negative political and informational consequences of Zaluzhnyi's dismissal," he stated.

Therefore, changes are planned at different levels, according to the journalist. In particular, the President's Office is actively discussing the promotion of up to two dozen commanders, mostly brigadiers, who are respected in the Armed Forces and the National Guard, to higher positions. Extensive consultations are being held to determine which commanders have a strong reputation in the army and society and to which positions they can be appointed.

According to Butusov, Chief of the Defense Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov and Commander of the Ground Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi are currently being considered as candidates to replace Zaluzhnyi, "and the option of appointing them in tandem is not ruled out."

Rumors about Gen. Zaluzhnyi's dismissal – What we know

Read also: Tensions escalate in Ukraine as Zelenskyy questions military leadership – WP

Media reports on Jan. 29 speculated about Zaluzhnyi's potential firing as Armed Forces Chief, which the Defense Ministry promptly denied. Zelenskyy's spokesperson, SergiiNykyforov, also refuted these reports, while the President didn’t raise the situation in his daily evening address.

Zaluzhnyi was offered the position of secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, but refused, The Economist reported. Zelenskyy planned to dismiss Zaluzhnyi but changed his decision after the information leaked to the media, The New York Times wrote.

The Washington Post reported that the reason for the possible ousting was disagreements that arose from different views on conscription in Ukraine.

The tense relationship between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi was reported by Ukrainska Pravda on Dec. 4. Zelenskyy was leaning toward replacing Zaluzhnyi following a visit to Kyiv by Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin, a member of Ukraine’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff commented in the article.

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

Journalists wrote that the president had actually created parallel tracks for communication with commanders of various branches of the military, which bypasses Zaluzhnyi.

The Zelenskyy administration has repeatedly dismissed reports of a conflict between the state leader and the chief of the Armed Forces, which reportedly intensified after two high-profile articles by Time and The Economist and a series of unrelated events.

In a series of articles for the British magazine, Zaluzhnyi stated that the war was entering an exhauasting positional phase for Ukraine. The President's Office then issued several statements indirectly refuting the general, and Zelenskyy later acknowledged the difficult situation at the front, but said he did not believe the war had reached a deadlock.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine