Rely Only on What Resists

If a good specialist and a decent person leaves the team,
then something is wrong with the team.

Alarming news came from Ukraine.

President Zelensky relieved the Сommander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Valeriy Zaluzhny of his duties on February 8, 2024.
This is a bad sign for Ukraine and everyone who supports it in a just war against Putin’s Russia.

The formal reason for the dismissal is the lack of progress in the de-occupation of Ukrainian territories and the need to overcome "a feeling of stagnation" after Ukraine's failed summer counteroffensive.

«In the second year of this war, we won the Black Sea. We won the winter. We proved that we can regain control of the Ukrainian sky. But, unfortunately, we failed to achieve the goals of our state on land,» Mr. Zelensky said in the statement.

And he decided to reassign the upper echelon of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, disregarding the public opinion. Mr. Zelensky is apparently in a hurry and wants to «... make this year (2024) a crucial one. Crucial for achieving Ukraine's goals in the war» in that way.

Gen. Syrsky, who was previously Commander of Ukraine’s Land Forces, has now been appointed instead of Gen. Zaluzhny, i.e., the very commander who was responsible for the successes of the Ukrainian army on the land. This is probably why many people in Ukraine and in the world think that there is something more behind Mr. Zaluzhny’s dismissal than just the president’s dissatisfaction with the situation at the front.

Gen. Syrsky is not particularly popular among the troops and is considered a “tough” general who does not spare the lives of the soldiers.

They say that Gen. Zaluzhny has been offered the position of the head of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, but refused.

Well, Mr. Zelensky is the president, and he probably knows what he’s doing.

Who is General Zaluzhny?

He is quite a personality. It’s usually not easy to get along with such people, because they say and do whatever they find needed, but... You can rely only on something that resists.

Gen. Zaluzhny held the responsible position of Commander-in-Chief of Ukrainian Armed Force for almost 2 years of the war. He began preparing for war earlier than others — he has been reforming the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2014. He is a good military theorist and practitioner (it is him and Gen. Syrsky who are credited for holding Kyiv in March 2022) and maybe the only reader in Ukraine of the works of the commander of Russian army, Gen. Gerasimov.

Gen. Zaluzhny passed all stages of military service from platoon commander to Commander-in-Chief. He is a new type of officer who moved away from Soviet military doctrine:
The overall course of reforming Ukraine's Armed Forces in line with NATO principles and standards remains irreversible. And the key here is the principles. Changes must take place primarily in the worldview and attitude toward people. I would like you to turn your face to the people, to your subordinates. My attitude towards people has not changed throughout my service.”

From my point of view, he has a conscience (and this is very rare for Ukrainian elite), his own opinion and is able to admit his mistakes, which means he can see them and learn.

Finally, Gen. Zaluzhny is simply a modest and responsible person, a good professional, not a daydreamer or a PR man. This is exactly what the elite of Ukraine should be like.
And now he is leaving...

A "white raven"?

What is the real reason for Gen. Zaluzhny’s dismissal?

I think one of the main reasons for the dismissal of a professional of this level was his growing popularity not only in Ukraine, but also in the world. Recently, he has given several large interviews to the world's leading media, and Time magazine placed his interview and photo on its cover in September 2022. However, Mr. Zaluzhny spoke very rarely in the media actually, and this gave his rare interviews a special value.

Interestingly, Time also published the interview and photo on the cover of President Zelensky in April 2022, so Gen. Zaluzhny has caught up with Mr. Zelensky in popularity.

Gen. Zaluzhny’s rating (as well as the Ukrainian Armed Forces) are very high in Ukraine - they are trusted by about 88% of Ukrainians while Mr. Zelensky’s rating is lower (62%).

Gen. Zaluzhny directly expressed his point of view on the war and the state of the Armed Forces of Ukraine which diverged from the point of view of the country's leadership. He published a policy article in The Economist in November 2023 where he unambiguously defined the situation at the front with the word “stalemate” and pointed at the technological superiority of Ukraine with the help of Western most modern weapons as the only means of achieving victory. This opinion of the general was at odds with the opinion of the President of Ukraine. Mr. Zelensky did not agree with the «stalemate», although it is obvious to everyone that the front line has hardly moved since the summer of 2023.

Gen. Zaluzhny also criticized the leadership of Ukraine on the sensitive issue of mobilization, indirectly mentioning Mr. Zelensky: «… the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures.»

This is where a conflict began between the president and the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Force of Ukraine which Mr. Zaluzhny did not comment on.

In Ukraine, you cannot criticize your bosses and be “smarter” than them. This dates back to Soviet times or maybe even earlier. The country's elite changed after the presidential elections in 2019, but its essence did not. The mentality of a nation is a very inert thing.

In a country (as in a family), everyone should mind their own business, this is the ideal. Mr. Zelensky is great at representing Ukraine in the world (he is an actor) and collecting money and weapons for it (this is very important). Obviously, economics and army commanding are not his best abilities, so it is better to leave the war to decent professionals. But he is the Commander-in-Chief, too, so he commands…

This conflict and the subsequent dismissal of Gen. Zaluzhny and several other senior officers obviously greatly benefit Mr. Putin.
And yet Mr. Zelensky will now have to answer to the Ukrainians and the West for any failure of Ukraine on the battlefield, so maybe he shouldn’t have started all that.

Mr. Zelensky is a hero in the eyes of the West. Not really.

From my point of view, there is a wrong attitude towards Mr. Zelensky in the West. He is perceived as a hero who has “balls”.

The famous American historian Stephen Kotkin once said:
«It turned out that the Ukrainian people are brave; they are willing to resist and die for their country. Evidently, Putin didn’t believe that. But it turned out that “the television President,” Zelensky, who had a twenty-five-per-cent approval rating before the war—which was fully deserved, because he couldn’t govern—now it turns out that he has a ninety-one-per-cent approval rating. It turned out that he’s got cojones. He’s unbelievably brave. »

Here Mr. Kotkin is absolutely right regarding Ukrainian people and, apparently, very wrong regarding the “cojones” of Mr. Zelensky. I heard from couple of my Ukrainian friends that Mr. Zelensky became a reluctant hero. The Ukrainian military (including Gen. Zaluzhny) and the people (volunteers) just started fighting and did not allow Mr. Zelensky to surrender Ukraine to Mr. Putin in the first days of the war.
Does that sound like a conspiracy? No, it is more likely to be truth. Ukrainian elites have always been selling Ukraine wholesale to everyone who wanted to buy it.

Ukrainian volunteers are a very particular issue. They are the ones - military and civilian volunteers - who in 2014 did not allow the Russians to advance further than Donbass, and it turns out they forced Mr. Zelensky and the “new Ukrainian elite” to fight for Ukraine in 2022. They are the ones who are now dying in the war, while the elite is “forging victory” in the rear.

It was the volunteers - Ukrainian people - which Mr. Putin did not take into account since he made his decisions about the war based on a good knowledge of the Ukrainian corrupt elites. Me, too. This is where we both made a great mistake.

The consequences of Gen. Zaluzhny's dismissal are much deeper than it seems.

I think that Mr. Zelensky made a very important decision for Ukraine regarding Gen. Zaluzhny which is much deeper than just dismissing one person. Other than it’s bad “to swap the horses in the midstream”, 88% of Ukrainians stand behind this man who trusted him to lead the war, and thus their lives. Many Ukrainians now have weapons, combat experience and can ask harshly of their “servant” Mr. Zelensky.

He apparently counts on his 62% support, on the martial law in the country (ban on holding elections) and on the fact that Ukrainians, as usual, will accept and endure everything. In addition, everyone understands that any political discord in Ukraine will help Mr. Putin much during the war.
Yes. And after?

The decision on Gen. Zaluzhny divides (that is, weakens) the nation. This, together with other problems (reducing Western military assistance), may ultimately lead Ukraine to peace negotiation with Mr. Putin on his terms. Now it will be at least a pause in the war and a concession to the Russians of the territory that they have currently captured. The people of Ukraine will perceive that as a defeat. This will also be a defeat for Mr. Zelensky, the collective West, and a triumph for the criminal Mr. Putin. Now the impression is that he manages to “overstrain” the West and Ukraine, but life is unpredictable and everything may happen.

Thank you, General.

If you fire honest, decent people and good professionals, then you are obviously left with dishonest ones and bad specialists. They will lead you and your project to disaster. Dismissal in this case is more your problem than the one who was fired.

Mr. Zaluzhny leaves with his head held high as a combat general and hero - President Zelensky awarded him the title of Hero of Ukraine on February, 9th.

Thank you, General.

Compulsion to statehood.

The dominance of the “might of the right” over the past 70+ years in the world is now clearly giving way to the “right of the mighty,” and the collective West has not much time for Ukraine and even for its own declared democratic values. Ukraine cannot cope without Western support. Now any country must rely only on itself.

It’s a pity that last 32 years of Ukraine’s “independence” were almost in vain. The Ukrainian elites did not build a new state, like the Baltic nations did, but rushed to pocket what was left of the USSR. The people of Ukraine did not see that and voted for different thieves and traitors during 32 years. This is why Ukraine fell into decline and became a victim of Mr. Putin's attack.

Now the economic, political, demographic and humanitarian situation in Ukraine is much worse than it was on August 24, 1991.
However, the national self-awareness of Ukrainians has grown significantly. The full-scale war and a real threat to the existence of the nation were required for that.
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