Feb 5, 2024 - World

Zelensky says he's considering replacing Ukraine's top general

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is speaking during a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Kyiv, Ukraine, on January 22

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a joint press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 22. Photo: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is considering replacing the country's top military general as part of a broader leadership shakeup.

Why it matters: The change would come at a critical juncture in the war, as Russia has vowed to intensify its strikes on the country and Ukraine fights for continued military aid from the U.S.

  • The replacement of Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, would be one of the most consequential personnel changes Kyiv has made since the start of the war.
  • The general is one of the most celebrated figures in Ukrainian society. He is credited with leading many of Ukraine's early military successes in its defense against Russia's unprovoked invasion, per the New York Times.

Driving the news: Zelensky confirmed during an interview that aired Sunday on Italy's Rai TV that he is considering replacing Zaluzhny, as well as a "series of state leaders," AP reported.

  • The review of personnel is "not about a single person, but about the direction of the country's leadership," he added.
  • "If we want to win, we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory," Zelensky said. "We cannot be discouraged, let our arms fall. We must have the right positive energy."

Of note: The general made waves last fall when he warned that Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russia had reached a "stalemate."

  • Zelensky informed the White House that he was considering replacing Zaluzhny last week, multiple outlets reported.

The other side: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week that reports of Zaluzhny's imminent replacement signaled "the failed counteroffensive and problems at the front increase the disagreements between members of the Kyiv regime," the Washington Post reported.

Go deeper