Why Zelensky Is Mulling a Major Leadership Shakeup

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is weighing a decision to fire his top military commander as part of a wider government shakeup. 

“A reset, a new beginning is necessary,” Zelensky told the Italian media outlet Rai News on Sunday night. “I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership.”

The comments came after Zelensky informed the White House that he intends to fire General Valery Zaluzhny, Reuters reported on Friday. Ukraine’s top military commander is an extremely popular figure in Ukraine but has butted heads with Zelensky after he requested to draft an additional 500,000 soldiers to join the fighting.

Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Zelensky had frequently hired and fired top government officials. But if the cabinet reshuffle goes forward, it could be the first major personnel shake up in Ukraine’s government since the war started.

“When we talk about this, I mean a replacement of a series of state leaders, not just in a single sector like the military,” Zelensky said during the broadcast on Sunday. “If we want to win, we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory.”

The war has not been going well for Ukraine in recent months. The country’s armed forces are struggling to hold back multiple Russian offensives amid concerns about supplies including ammunition. In December, Zelensky said that the long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive “did not achieve desired results.”

Read More: Inside Ukraine’s Plan to Arm Itself

The expected shakeup comes as Republican lawmakers have increasingly expressed reluctance to fund U.S. assistance to Ukraine. The White House approved $250 million in a new round of aid for Ukraine in December. A new Senate bill unveiled on Sunday could provide an additional $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, but House speaker Mike Johnson declared it “dead on arrival” if it reaches his chamber.

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