Zelensky sacks Ukraine’s commander-in-chief

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. (BBC)

Ukraine’s president has sacked the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

It follows speculation about a rift between the president and Gen Zaluzhnyi, who has led Ukraine’s war effort since the conflict began.

Battle-hardened Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi was announced as his replacement in a presidential decree.

It is the biggest change to Ukraine’s military leadership since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the high command needed to be “renewed” and that Gen Zaluzhnyi could “remain on the team”.

“Starting today, a new management team will take over the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he said on Thursday.

Gen Zaluzhnyi is a popular general trusted by Ukrainian soldiers and the public, and has been something of a national hero.

His recent approval ratings have been higher than those of Mr Zelensky.

The president said he and Gen Zaluzhnyi had a “frank conversation” about the changes needed in the army, and that he thanked the general for defending Ukraine from Russia.

The new army chief, Gen Syrskyi, has experience of both defensive and offensive warfare, Mr Zelensky said.

He led the defence of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, at the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

He then masterminded Ukraine’s surprise and successful counter-attack in Kharkiv that summer, and has since been serving as the head of military operations in eastern Ukraine – one of the two main axes in Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

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