Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's top general departed as the nation's army chief, a person familiar said, ending weeks of speculation over a deepening rift in the country's leadership and stoking uncertainty over the direction of the war.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Valeriy Zaluzhnyi stepped down or was dismissed, but the move was prompted by mounting acrimony between the president and his top general, the person said on condition of anonymity. Zelenskyy said in a social media post that he's pushing for “renewed leadership” after meeting with Zaluzhnyi.
“The time for such a renewal is now,” Zelenskyy said on X, saying that Zaluzhnyi would remain “part of the team.” Oleksandr Syrsky, who commands the country's land forces, will replace him, the president announced on his Telegram channel.
The departure of the commander-in-chief, a figure widely revered among soldiers as well as the Ukrainian people, comes at a fraught moment for the war-battered nation, which is increasingly out-gunned by Russia's war machine and running short of Western aid.
As more than $60 billion in U.S. funding for Ukraine is snarled in the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden's administration has pressed Zelenskyy to sharpen the military plan to force back Russia's invasion. That was partly out of concern among officials in Washington over the split between the Ukrainian leader and his top military official.