Ukraine: Zelensky may soon oust military chief Zaluzhny

Ukrainian leader reputedly set to replace Zaluzhny with intel chief Budanov as his cash-strapped government prepares to lose the war

Rumors are making the rounds in Kiev that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will fire the head of his armed forces, General Valerii Zaluzhny. 

Zelensky and Zaluzhny have been at odds for some time. The excuse is likely to be losses in and around Avdeevka, which is a Ukrainian military stronghold just north of Donetsk. The rumor says that Kyrylo Budanov, head of military intelligence, will replace Zaluzhny.

Field reports show that the Russians have advanced in the southern part of the town, knocking out numerous trenches and fortifications, with the Russian operation gaining momentum and strength as new troops are poured into the fight. 

There is little doubt that Russia will be successful. While the Ukrainian army may be able to delay the Russians, it lacks any ability to stop them cold. If Ukraine tries to bring in extra forces to bolster its chances, it will open itself up to Russian threats elsewhere along the line of contact.

Avdeevka, no matter its importance, is just an excuse for Zelensky. He needs loyal people around him as his situation becomes more precarious. His European and American allies, who still say they want to give him what he wants in arms and financial aid, understand that Ukraine can’t stand up to Russian military pressure.

That is why Europe is now in a panic and Washington is searching for a new policy. Europe believes that if Russia wins in Ukraine, as now seems likely, then Europe will be threatened by Russia, for which it is not prepared. 

NATO’s chiefs, as well as politicians in Germany, Sweden, Holland, Estonia, Poland and elsewhere, are clamoring for strengthening NATO’s defenses.

NATO’s Steadfast Defender may or may not be taken seriously in Moscow. Image: NATO

The nearly five-month-long NATO exercise, starting in late January, is an effort to demonstrate to Russia that NATO will stand and fight. But the exercise may also show the Russians just what they need to do if a conflict does come.