Western media reported that the Ukrainian president and the AFU commander-in-chief met on 29 January, but no decision was made. Now the process of replacing Zaluzhnyi as commander-in-chief is slowed down.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky intended to dismiss the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU), Valerii Zaluzhnyi, on 29 January, but postponed the decision due to leaked resignation data, The New York Times (NYT) reported on Tuesday, 30 January, citing a former high-ranking Ukrainian official. According to the outlet’s interlocutor, the process of Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal from office is now slowed down.
A member of the Ukrainian parliament familiar with the Ukrainian leadership’s plans confirmed this information, adding that Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi met on the evening of 29 January, but no decision was made - one of the obstacles, according to him, was the lack of a candidate to immediately replace Zaluzhnyi as commander-in-chief.
Candidates for Zaluzhnyi’s replacement
The Economist writes that the candidates considered to replace Zaluzhnyi were 58-year-old General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the AFU ground forces, and 38-year-old Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR). As the periodical notes, there is an assumption that Budanov gave up the post of the AFU commander-in-chief “at the last minute”. At the same time, Budanov’s close colleague noted that he had no claim to Zaluzhnyi’s post, but he also had no right to refuse it.
The Economist confirms that there was a meeting between Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi on the evening of 29 January, where the president said he was dismissing the commander-in-chief. At the same time, Zelensky offered Zaluzhnyi another post - secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC), but he refused.
Zaluzhnyi’s rejection of other posts
On the evening of 29 January, Ukrainian media and politicians started reporting about Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal. Former Verkhovna Rada MP Boryslav Bereza quoted sources in the Ukrainian president’s office as saying that the commander-in-chief had turned down the offer to head the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine or to become ambassador. At the same time, according to Bereza, Budanov and Syrskyi refuses the post of the commander-in-chief.
Current Rada MP Oleksiy Goncharenko claimed that Zaluzhnyi had refused to become ambassador to a European country.
The Ukrainian leadership denied information about Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal. “Dear journalists, we answer everyone at once: no, that’s not true,” the Ukrainian defense ministry said in its Telegram channel, without specifying what exactly it was talking about. A spokesman for the Ukrainian president, Sergii Nykyforov, later issued a more specific statement: “Definitely not. The president did not dismiss the commander-in-chief.”