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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Zelensky ‘yelling at generals’ – The Economist

The Ukrainian president allegedly believes that he is being kept in the dark about the situation at the front

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky believes his generals are hiding the truth from him and has taken to shouting at them, The Economist has claimed, citing a government source.

Purported fits of presidential rage were mentioned in a Monday report on the situation in Kharkov Region, where Russian forces have gained significant ground over the last month. According to the British newsweekly, Ukrainian troops deployed there are angry at the development and have competing theories about the causes.

Read more: Zelensky details Ukraine’s weapons demands

Some blame the US and its allies for insufficient and untimely aid, not unlike Zelensky himself, while others “suspect that incompetence, or even treachery, played a more significant role.” There are also “conspiracy theories” about politicians in Kiev and Washington conspiring to sell the territory “down the river ahead of an ugly peace deal.”

Denis Yaroslavsky, a local commander who made national headlines for complaining that fortifications that were supposed to prevent Russian advances did not really exist, told The Economist that Zelensky “is being kept in a warm bath” – that is, being told comforting lies by his aides.

The Economist’s anonymous government source said the president has been clashing with Ukrainian generals after allegedly sensing that he was not getting the whole truth about the frontline situation.

Zelensky’s strained relations with the military leadership, which reportedly stems from him putting his political goals ahead of military objectives, has previously been covered by Ukrainian and international media.

Read more: Zelensky blames ‘whole world’ for Ukraine’s failures in Kharkov

In December, the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda claimed that the president was actively undermining Valery Zaluzhny, who at the time was Ukraine’s most senior general, in favor of Aleksandr Syrsky.

“It seems Zelensky has two kinds of troops: ‘good’ ones commanded by Syrsky and other favorites and ‘bad’ ones under Zaluzhny,” a source told the outlet. “This demoralizes [Zaluzhny] and prevents him from commanding the army as a whole.”

In February, the Ukrainian leader fired Zaluzhny and appointed Syrsky as his replacement.

A profile of Zelensky published by Time magazine last November said the president’s uncompromising drive for a battlefield victory over Russia was “verging on the messianic” and had put him at odds with some officers.

A military official described how at one point the president’s office issued a direct order to a unit on the ground to “retake” a certain city, and received the reply: “With what?” The unit had neither weapons nor soldiers, the source explained.