Zelensky appointed Zaluzhny as Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK

Former commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Valerii Zaluzhny will become the country’s ambassador to the UK. His new appointment was agreed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Foreign Ministry said. The ministry has sent the British side a corresponding request for an aggreeman.

Zelensky dismissed Zaluzhny from the post of AFU commander-in-chief on February 8, replacing him with Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrsky, who previously commanded the Ukrainian Ground Forces.

The head of state explained this decision by the need for change. However, sources of a number of Western media outlets noted that the reason was the disagreements between the president and the general, which escalated after Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive in the summer of 2023.

Zelensky publicly denied Zaluzhny, who said in the fall that the war had reached a “stalemate situation”. Also, the president did not follow his recommendation to mobilize another 500,000 soldiers.

The Washington Post sources noted that Zaluzhny was offered the post 10 days before it was officially announced. Even then, he was offered the post of ambassador to the UK, but the general refused because it was a civilian position and as a career military officer he did not want to leave the army.

However, the UK provides serious military support to Ukraine. The Times claimed that Tony Radakin, the chief of staff of the kingdom’s Armed Forces, helped the Ukrainian Armed Forces build a strategy to destroy Russian warships in the Black Sea. Britain was also the first to supply Kyiv with long-range missiles and help guide them to Russian targets, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

After Zaluzhny’s dismissal, Zelensky thanked him “for two years of defense” and awarded him the title of Hero of Ukraine. At the same time, the President offered the ex-head of the command “to stay in the team”.

The Ukrainian army negatively perceived Zaluzhny’s departure and Syrsky’s appointment, military officials told Politico on condition of anonymity. According to them, the latter had earned a reputation as a harsh Soviet-style general who heartlessly put soldiers in danger.

Zelensky’s biographer, Time journalist Simon Shuster, said that contradictions between Zelensky and Zaluzhny emerged even before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In particular, the commander-in-chief advocated general mobilization and strengthening the borders with Russia, while Zelensky feared that such measures would provoke panic in society.

Already after the war began, the president’s office began to worry about Zaluzhny’s political ambitions. Concerns arose over the commander-in-chief’s decision to create a charitable foundation in April 2022, Shuster noted. Authorities felt that the structure could grow into a political party from which Zaluzhny would run for president. According to a secret poll, during the war the chief commander’s popularity reached such a level that he could compete with Zelensky and even defeat him in the elections.

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