Zelensky Signals Strategic Shift in War Is Coming

Ukraine leader replaces his top general amid stalemate with Russia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2024 1:25 PM CST
Zelensky Signals Strategic Shift in War Is Coming
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, right, look at a map during their visit to the front line city of Kupiansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on Nov. 30, 2023.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

Ukraine's president replaced his top general Thursday in a shake-up aimed at reigniting momentum in the deadlocked war with Russia. After days of speculation that change was coming, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media that he was thankful for the service of the outgoing Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi—a military leader popular with troops and the general public. "The time for ... a renewal is now," Zelensky said on X, per the AP.

  • New leader: Zelensky appointed Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi to lead the army, which needs a morale boost at a time when the three-year conflict with Russia has been at a near stalemate for months. Syrskyi, 58, has been involved since 2013 in the Ukrainian army's effort to adopt NATO standards.

  • New strategy? Zaluzhnyi said in a Telegram message that "everyone must change and adapt to new realities" and he agreed there is a "need to change approaches and strategy" in the war. Neither Zelensky nor Zaluzhnyi provided any detail about what the new strategy might entail.
  • Context: There has been little change in positions along the 900-mile front line over the winter. Ukraine's struggles—including with ammunition and personnel— come on the heels of a failed counteroffensive last summer and as European allies try to bump up their military production. At the same time, a political standoff in the United States is holding up further aid from Ukraine's main supplier.
  • US aid: The US Senate on Thursday voted to begin work on a package of wartime funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other US allies, but doubts remained about support from Republicans who earlier rejected a carefully negotiated compromise that also included border enforcement policies. A separate AP story has details.
(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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