Ukraine’s top general ‘refuses request to step down’ amid rumours of rift with Zelenskyy


Ukraine’s top general has reportedly refused a request from Volodymyr Zelenskyy to step down amid an apparent long-running dispute between the two men.

The Ukrainian president sought to have Valerii Zaluzhnyi moved into a new role, according to media reports.

However the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces refused.

Mr Zelenskyy’s office has denied reports the military chief has stepped down or been dismissed – but rumours that he could be removed in the coming days have persisted.

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Valerii Zaluzhnyi pose for a picture. Pic: Reuters

The Financial Times has reported the Ukrainian president is indeed preparing to make a change, in what would be the most significant shake-up of military command since Russia’s invasion nearly two years ago.

It follows the poorer-than-expected results of the Ukrainian counteroffensive last year, rumours of an upcoming Russian spring offensive and issues obtaining aid from Kyiv’s allies in Europe and America.

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The Kremlin said it is monitoring the situation around Mr Zaluzhnyi. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “There are still a lot of questions.

“[But] one thing remains obvious – the Kyiv regime has a lot of problems, things are not going well there.”

The two men were at odds towards the end of last year, when Mr Zaluzhnyi said the war was moving towards a new stage of static and attritional fighting and, drawing comparisons with the First World War, said a level of technology had been reached that “puts us into a stalemate”.

President Zelenskyy denied the conflict had reached a stalemate.

“Today time has passed and people are tired. But this is not a stalemate,” he said.

Mr Zaluzhnyi subsequently commented that the war was not in a stalemate.

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