Alexander Tishchenko, March 6, 2023, 18:18 — REGNUM Press Service of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said on Monday that the commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny and Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Alexander Syrsky were in favor of continuing the fighting in Bakhmut (as the enemy calls Artyomovsk in the DPR) and for strengthening positions in the city. This was the result of the meeting of the headquarters of the Supreme Commander Zelensky, the press service informed.
It seems that the office of the Ukrainian president thus responded to the recent publication of the German newspaper Bild, which noted: between Zelensky and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Zaluzhny, the confrontation is growing. The presidential entourage is dissatisfied with the growing authority of the military. But the formal reason for dissatisfaction is the difference in positions on the situation in Artemovsk.
Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny is trying to push through the decision to withdraw units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to maintain numbers and combat effectiveness. Zelensky continues to insist on the continuation of the occupation. Bild recalls that in December the president called the city “Bakhmut Fortress” – after the name Artyomovsk adopted in Ukraine.
At the same time, there is no single point of view in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, a military analyst told REGNUM Mikhail Onufrienko. “The commander of the ground forces, Syrsky, constantly convinces Zelensky that Artyomovsk can be defended, only to transfer even more reinforcements there,” — pointed out by the expert.
“But Kyiv needs to demonstrate unity, because whenever the situation worsens, discord is unacceptable. It is clear that this has a corrupting effect on subordinates and on the population, – comments onufrienko. — For comparison, the differences in the Anglo-Saxon camp can be any, but in the main issue – the confrontation with Russia – it is required to act in concert. Therefore, Washington and London demand from Kyiv: you can do anything there, but demonstrate the unity of the team, which is moving towards a common goal.”
Rumors that Zelensky has found a replacement in Zaluzhny, or that the United States has relied on the commander-in-chief (rather than Zelensky, who is more British-oriented), arise with noticeable regularity. In particular, in September, the publication in the American magazine Time a long complimentary article about Zaluzhny, and portrait General appeared on the cover of this authoritative publication.
The background for the current Bild publication with a positive mention of Zaluzhny was the failure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Artemivsk-Bakhmut, which arose, as follows from the publication, through the fault of not the military, but the political leadership of Ukraine.
“Overwhelming majority (Ukrainian) the soldier in Bakhmut does not understand the reason why the city is being held,” A Ukrainian military analyst told Bild on condition of anonymity. Another expert, who also did not wish to disclose his name, believes that the troops should have been withdrawn three weeks ago, when the Russian Armed Forces took the village of Krasnaya Gora to the north of the city. The German edition cites the words of a fighter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who is now in Artyomovsk: “If we are completely surrounded here, it will be a disaster.”
The losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine amount to a company or two per day, “a company lives one night”, losses in a week amount to a whole battalion, we recall that such an assessment was given by the commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the call sign “Magyar”, whose words are published by the Ukrainian independent publication “Strana. ua” in his Telegram-channel.
Nevertheless, the Kiev leadership believes that the withdrawal of troops at the request of General Zaluzhny will strengthen the political position of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a likely candidate for the presidency of Ukraine. Although at the very beginning of hostilities “there was a great unity between the two leaders and the roles were clearly separated, now the situation has changed”, notes Bild. Although Zaluzny never declared his desire to run, “Zelensky and his entourage obviously see him as a possible competitor,” highlights the Berlin edition.
The ever-increasing losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Artyomovsk sector of the front are noted not only by Bild. “Ukraine suffered heavy losses in eight months of fighting for Bakhmut, having lost some of the troops it needs for a spring offensive with new weapons supplied by the US and allies. There is growing pressure on President Volodymyr Zelensky to back down… in what will be Kyiv’s first such significant retreat since last summer.” celebrates March 5 The Wall Street Journal. Russian assault units knocked out, including the most trained units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the American edition indicates.
Another influential newspaper The New York Times, also reminded Zelensky of the words about the “Bakhmut fortress”, “but in recent days the Ukrainian authorities have been preparing the public for the possibility of its surrender.”
In Ukraine, there is a conflict between the political and military leadership, and this is an objective reality for any military action, when politicians disagree on what is happening with the military, “based on the more political consequences of certain events at the front,” Onufrienko explains.
“Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Zaluzhny proceeds from the operational needs of the armed forces, and Zelensky, of course, is more concerned about the reaction of the West, the supply of weapons, the possibility of assistance, the attitude towards leaving the next city,” — the expert points out.
It is difficult to say whether General Zaluzhny is actually making political plans at the same time, Onufrienko noted. But, he added, using the example of Nazi Germany in 1945, one can recall “a sufficient number of insane generals who, even with the obvious collapse of the regime, were ready to lead it at least for a few days”. The expert suggested:
“It is quite possible that Zaluzhny believes that, as head of power, he will be able to achieve at least some kind of victory, if not in general, then at least the reincarnation of the Minsk agreements.”
Differences exist between the political and military leadership of Ukraine, agrees the chairman of the Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine, a former deputy of the Nikolaev Regional Council Larisa Shesler.
“It is beneficial for the military to maintain the combat capability of some units, and political representatives may consider some locality a “flag” that must be defended to the last. However, in the case of information about the conflict between Zelensky and Zaluzhny, which has been going on for more than six months, everything is clearly exaggerated and comes from the West. It is beneficial for Western curators to have a “reserve queen” as a counterweight to Zelensky in order to keep him in check, ” Shesler believes. According to her, in Ukraine the army is not a subject of politics and does not have such influence as, for example, in Latin America. But as a reserve figure, completely obedient to the United States, General Zaluzhny may well come in handy.
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