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‘A decision was made to change the Armed Forces’ leadership’

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Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said a decision was made “on the need to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Umerov thanked Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi for his service.

“War changes and demands change. Battles 2022, 2023 and 2024 are three different realities. 2024 will bring new changes for which we must be ready. New approaches, new strategies are needed,” the defense minister said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 8, he met Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and hinted at the commander’s dismissal following days of rumors about such a decision.

Read also: Zelensky dismisses Chief Commander Zaluzhnyi, appoints Syrskyi in his place

Zelensky thanked him for “two years of protecting Ukraine’ and discussed with him “who could be in the new leadership of the Armed Forces.”

“The time for such a reset is now,” added Zelensky.

Zaluzhnyi served as Commander-in-Chief since July 2021. Reports first surfaced in November 2023 about disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi.

A December 2023 poll found that 72% of Ukrainians would disapprove of his resignation.

However, the relationship between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi has appeared to be strained for weeks, particularly after Nov. 1, when Zaluzhnyi described a potential “trap” of a prolonged war during an interview with the Economist.

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