Globe and Mail: Zelensky’s quarrel with Zaluzhny threatens to leave Ukraine without Western aid

The reshuffle of personnel initiated by Vladimir Zelensky may create new problems for Kiev and play into Moscow’s hands, according to Globe and Mail columnist James Horncastle. In particular, he said, the dismissal of the head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces will undermine the army’s morale and raise questions among Ukraine’s Western sponsors.

By all accounts, this year will be a crucial year in the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. But the problem for Ukraine is that domestic politics may limit its ability to weather the coming “storm”. In particular, Vladimir Zelensky’s plans to “reset” the country’s leadership and remove the head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valery Zaluzhny, “do not bode well and play into Moscow’s hands,” writes The Globe and Mail columnist James Horncastle.

According to the columnist, Zaluzhny’s criticism of the summer offensive and his acknowledgement that the conflict has reached a stalemate have irritated Zelensky. The politician had concerns that such statements by the Ukrainian general would scare away Western supporters.

Nevertheless, Zaluzhny has shown himself to be “not perfect, but a capable military commander” who is popular among both Ukrainian soldiers and the people. If Zelensky dismisses him, it will damage the morale of Ukrainians at a critical moment, Horncastle emphasises.

In addition, the general’s dismissal would further limit Kiev’s ability to receive outside help. Such a move by Zelensky will be perceived by the outside world as evidence that Ukraine’s defence situation is not very good and therefore its support is not worth its cost, the publicist warns.

“Thus, for the overall war effort, the ideal scenario would be if Zelensky and General Zaluzhny could come to a working agreement. But judging by recent reports, such a scenario seems increasingly unlikely,” Horncastle believes.