Amid rumors surrounding the potential resignation of Ukraine’s armed forces commander-in-chief, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the Ukrainian government has informed the White House that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has decided to remove Zaluzhnyi from his post.
According to WP, White House officials, though neither opposing nor endorsing this high-stakes decision, have recognized it as the president’s prerogative. These sources have requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic, WP noted.
President Zelenskyy has yet to issue an official decree announcing the removal of General Zaluzhnyi from his position. Consequently, there has been no official confirmation of this decision from the Ukrainian government.
This early disclosure provided an opportunity for the White House to counsel President Zelenskyy to reconsider his pivotal choice, which they ultimately chose not to exercise, WP stated.
On 29 January, the news regarding the possible dismissal of General Zaluzhnyi emerged following months of rumors about escalating tensions between the Ukrainian President and the general.
The information started circulating on social media, starting from anonymous Telegram channels associated with the President’s Office. The information was immediately confirmed by various politicians and journalists from pro- and anti-Zelenskyy camps.
At 19:41 on 29 January, after 1.5 hours of silence from officials, during which chaos and tension flooded the Ukrainian media landscape, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense came out with a cryptic statement that “this is not true.”
Then, at 20:05, President Zelenskyy’s spokesperson, Serhiy Nykyforov, informed Ukrainska Pravda that “the president definitely did not fire the commander-in-chief.”
Finally, at 20:20, Zelenskyy released his daily address without mentioning either the meeting with the commander-in-chief or his dismissal, seeming to debunk the rumors.
This all prompted outrage about the irresponsible official communication, as well as sparked speculations about the real cause of the rumors.
On 1 February, Zaluzhnyi published an essay on CNN where he didn’t comment on his relationship with Zelenskyy and the swirling information about his ousting but focused on Ukraine’s war strategy and the challenges it may face, suggesting that the country has to rely mainly on itself in the war effort.