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Zelensky announces more changes to military leadership

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President Volodymyr Zelensky announced more changes to Ukraine’s military leadership during his evening address on Feb. 10, naming two new deputies of Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and three new deputies of the Chief of the General Staff Anatolii Barhylevych.

Zelensky appointed Syrskyi to replace General Valerii Zaluzhnyi on Feb. 8. He then appointed Barhylevych to replace Lieutenant General Serhii Shaptala on Feb. 9. Both Zaluzhnyi and Shaptala had led Ukraine’s military since before the full-scale invasion.

Reports first surfaced in November 2023 about disagreements between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi. Zaluzhnyi’s interview on the state of the war for The Economist on Nov. 1, in which he said there was a danger that Ukraine was walking into the trap of a prolonged war, led Zelensky to say that he disagreed with the sentiment Zaluzhnyi expressed.

Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda then reported on Dec. 4 that Zelensky was allegedly “bypassing” Zaluzhnyi in communication with some military commanders, citing anonymous sources.

Days before an official announcement that Zaluzhnyi was dismissed, Zelensky confirmed that he was planning to revamp Ukraine’s political and military leadership, arguing that Ukraine needs “fresh energy.”

Colonel Vadym Sukharevskyi, commander of the 59th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade, was named one of Syrskyi’s deputies. Sukharevskyi will focus on unmanned systems and the development of the military’s use of drones, according to Zelensky.

Colonel Andrii Lebedenko was named another deputy commander-in-chief and will focus on “innovation, specifically the technological component of the army and combat systems,” according to Zelensky.

Zelensky also appointed three of Barhylevych’s deputies, Volodymyr Horbatiuk, Oleksii Shevchenko, and Mykhailo Drapatyi.

Horbatiuk’s task is to ensure all headquarters understand what is happening at “the front 100 percent,” Zelensky said. Shevchenko will focus on logistics, while Drapatyi is “responsible for the preparation, high-quality training of our military.”

“Now people who are well known in the army, and who themselves know well what the army needs, are taking up new duties,” Zelensky said, noting the usefulness of their combat experience.

“All the real experience of combat commanders, combat brigades, and our units, who built a high-quality system of training soldiers,” must be implemented for the success of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Zelensky said.

Read also: Ukraine war latest: New Armed Forces commander settles in, lays down main priorities

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