February 28, 2024

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'A fresh start is necessary'

'A fresh start is necessary'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a broad overhaul of Ukraine's military and civilian leadership is needed to revive the country's war effort. Zelensky spoke about this on Sunday evening in a broadcast on the Italian channel Rai News. His comments indicate that his plans go beyond simply replacing the top military commander, General Valery Zalozny. “A reset and a fresh start are necessary,” Zelensky told Rai News. “I have something serious on my mind that is not about one person, but about the direction of leading the country.”

Tensions between the military and civilian leadership, which had persisted for months, appeared to have reached a breaking point last week. Zelensky then called a meeting to inform Zalozny that he would be fired, according to Ukrainian officials familiar with the discussion. However, the decision was postponed, creating a feeling of uncertainty at the head of the government at a perilous moment of the war.


Exhausted Ukrainian forces are struggling to repel renewed Russian attacks across the front. The fighting is currently centered around the damaged city of Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region. According to the Ukrainian forces present in the area, Russian soldiers were able to penetrate the northern outskirts of the city in recent days. By taking advantage of dense cloud cover, they were able to avoid detection by Ukrainian drones.

Russia is increasingly threatening a vital supply line and is also threatening to seize control of the city. The fall of Avdiivka would be the most important victory for Russian forces since the capture of Bakhmut in May, and would open new lines of attack. This would help the Kremlin control the entire Donbass region. Additionally, this could free up resources for another Russian attack, hundreds of kilometers north, in the Kharkiv region.

Moscow mobilized more than 40,000 soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles near Kubyansk. This is part of an intensified effort by the Kremlin to regain territory in Kharkiv that Russian forces lost more than a year ago in a Ukrainian counterattack.

60 billion euros

Ukraine's defenses have been undermined by the suspension of vital US military aid; Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives have blocked repeated attempts to provide new funding. The lack of aid not only led to a severe shortage of artillery and other weapons among the Ukrainians, but also made planning extremely difficult.

Valery Zalozny on July 28, 2023.Belga's photo

Ukrainian lawmakers are engaged in a heated debate over a new mobilization law that would bring in about 500,000 new troops, but the discussion is complicated by the fact that it is unclear what resources would be available to train and equip those forces. Even before the showdown in Washington, newly pledged aid to Ukraine fell by nearly 90% between August and October compared with the same period in 2022, according to data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Republicans and Democrats unveiled a $118.3 billion (110.1 billion euros) package in the US Senate on Sunday, linking $60 billion (55.8 billion euros) in aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel and US border security reforms. But House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has personally pushed to connect these disparate issues, said the bill “Dead on arrivalIt will be in the Republican-controlled House.

Former US President Donald Trump is campaigning against the deal and is putting pressure on his supporters in Congress to stop it. President Joe Biden urged lawmakers on Sunday to pass the bill, saying, “If we don't stop Putin's thirst for power and control in Ukraine, it will bypass Ukraine and the costs to America will rise.”

With great appreciation

Ukraine's armed forces may currently be at their weakest point since the summer of 2022. Zelensky's frustrations with Zalozny have been growing over the past year; The fighting turned into bloody and constant trench warfare. But Zelensky acted cautiously, aware of the risks of replacing a popular military leader. Zalozny is highly regarded by ordinary soldiers and is considered a hero by many in the country for organizing the defense of Ukraine during the chaotic first months of the war.

If Zalozny is removed, concerns about leadership instability in Kiev may grow and are sure to be used by Russian propaganda to portray Zelensky as an undemocratic tyrant. “I mean replacing a number of leaders, and not just in one sector like the army,” Zelensky said on Sunday when asked to comment on reports of his plan to replace Zalozny. “If we want to win, we all have to move in the same direction, confident of victory.”

Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, said that the White House had been consulted about possible changes within the Ukrainian government. He says the United States will not help decide on such changes. “It is Ukraine’s sovereign right and the President of Ukraine has the right to make his own personal decisions,” Sullivan said in a statement. facing the nation, On CBS. We have been clear: we simply will not interfere in this specific decision. “We made this clear to the Ukrainians directly.”

© The New York Times

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