President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine removed his top general on Thursday, the ministry of defense said, after weeks of feverish speculation about his fate, enacting the most significant leadership shake-up since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.
“Today, a decision was made to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the minister of defense, Rustem Umerov, wrote in a post on Facebook.
“War does not remain the same. War changes and requires changes,” he wrote.
Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a statement on social media saying he had met with the general and “thanked him for the two years of defending Ukraine.”
The upheaval comes at a precarious moment for Ukraine in the war, amid intensified Russian attacks, skepticism in the United States over providing aid to Kyiv and the tensions between Ukraine’s civilian and military leadership. It remained unclear whether the commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, who is widely popular in Ukraine’s military and society, had resigned or been fired from the position.
Gen. Zaluzhny led Ukraine’s war effort from the initial, successful defense against Russia’s attack through the past year of bloody, inconclusive fighting along a front that has barely shifted but where Ukrainian soldiers once again find themselves outmanned and outgunned.
Mr. Zelensky said in his statement that he and the general “discussed the renewal that the Armed Forces of Ukraine require. We also discussed who could be part of the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
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