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Ukrainian army chief sets out priorities in article amid uncertainty over his future

file photo: chief of the ukrainian armed forces zaluzhnyi visits a monument to holodomor victims in kyiv
FILE PHOTO: Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi visits a monument to Holodomor victims during a commemoration ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine

Army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi laid out a set of priorities for Ukraine and named challenges blighting the country’s war effort in an opinion piece published on Thursday after several media outlets reported that he could be dismissed from his post.

General Zaluzhnyi made no mention of a rift with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy or the possibility of him leaving his post in the piece published by CNN. The U.S. outlet said Zaluzhnyi wrote the piece before “an expected announcement of his dismissal”.

CNN cited a source earlier saying that Zelenskiy was set to announce Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal within a matter of days in what would represent the biggest shakeup of Ukraine’s military during Russia’s full-scale invasion.

A senior presidential official said earlier that there was no decision on Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal “as of today” and called on people not to politicise the issue.

In his essay, Zaluzhnyi said Ukraine needed to find new ways and capabilities to gain an advantage over Russia as the full-scale war nears its third year.

“The challenge for our armed forces cannot be underestimated. It is to create a completely new state system of technological rearmament,” he wrote.

“Taking everything into account at this moment, we think the creation of such a system could be achieved in five months. Our partners are of the same view.”

He underlined the need for Ukraine to produce more drones.

“Crucially, it is these unmanned systems – such as drones – along with other types of advanced weapons, that provide the best way for Ukraine to avoid being drawn into a positional war, where we do not possess the advantage.”

But Zaluzhnyi criticised what he said was the “inability” of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of the armed forces without the use of what he called “unpopular measures”.

The remark appeared a powerful indictment of Ukraine’s attempted reform of the army mobilisation process, which has been unable to clear the parliamentary commission for weeks so that it can be debated by lawmakers.

He also attacked the “imperfections” of the state regulatory framework and the partial “monopolisation” of the defence industry, which he said led to production bottlenecks in things like ammunition.

The general, known as the “Iron General” to some, acknowledged that Kyiv had to contend with a reduction in military support from key allies, which he said were grappling with their own political tensions.

“Our partners’ stocks of missiles, air defense interceptors and ammunition for artillery is becoming exhausted, due to the intensity of hostilities in Ukraine, but also from a global shortage of propellant charges,” he said.

Zaluzhnyi has occasionally penned opinion articles in Western media during the war with Russia and, like his last one in November, he again emphasised the need for a breakthrough in technology for the battlefield.

“Our goal must be to seize the moment – to maximize our accumulation of the latest combat capabilities, which will allow us to commit fewer resources to inflicting maximum damage.”

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