DONETSK REGION, UKRAINE/WASHINGTON — The Ukrainian government has informed the White House that it plans to fire the country’s top military commander overseeing the war against Russian occupation forces, two knowledgeable sources said Friday.
The move to oust General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who has clashed with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over military strategy and other issues, follows a Ukrainian counteroffensive last year that failed to recover significant amounts of Russian-held territory.
A source close to Zelenskyy’s office said the pair also have disagreed over a new military mobilization drive, with the president opposing Zaluzhnyi’s proposal to call up 500,000 fresh troops.
The source, however, added that the process for relieving Zaluzhnyi of his post as the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces was on hold for the time being as officials consider who his replacement should be.
A second knowledgeable source said that the White House did not express a position one way or the other on the plan to replace Zaluzhnyi.
“I would emphasize that the White House response was that we did not support or object to their sovereign decision,” said the source, who requested anonymity to discuss the issue.
“The White House expressed that it is up to Ukraine to make its own sovereign decisions about its personnel,” the source continued.
The Washington Post was first to report that Ukraine had informed the White House of the plan to fire Zaluzhnyi.
U.S. officials told Ukraine that they were not opposed to the firing of Zaluzhnyi, said the source close to the Ukrainian president’s office.
“The U.S. is okay with Ukraine firing him,” the source said.
There were no details on the timeline for the plan. “Right now, both sides (the president and the general) have taken a pause in determining what the future will look like, and for now the status quo will remain until further notice,” the source said.