New Goals Announced After Shake-Up in Ukrainian High Command

Ukraine’s new military chief said Friday that his immediate goals are to improve the rotation of troops at the front lines and harness the power of new technology, at a time when Kyiv’s forces are largely on the defensive in the war with Russia.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who previously was the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, spoke a day after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy put him in charge of the battlefield campaign with the war poised to enter its third year.

Syrskyi replaces the broadly popular Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

“New tasks are on the agenda,” Syrskyi said on his Telegram channel.

Though he provided little detail, his remarks appeared to align with Zelenskyy’s stated aim of bringing “renewal” to the armed forces with the leadership shake-up and adopting a fresh approach to the fight.


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But the changes at the top won’t solve some of Ukraine’s biggest problems: a shortage of manpower that has helped sap morale and might require a mass mobilization, and a lower supply of Western weapons to take on Russia’s might.

Kyiv officials are “rethinking” their war strategy “with a new emphasis on improved technology and updated command and control,” said James Nixey, an analyst at London’s Chatham House think tank.

One sign of that might be the claimed recent sinking of a Russian warship in the Black Sea by a new generation of Ukrainian naval drones.

“It’s not going to be easy” for Syrskyi, said Marina Miron, a researcher at the War Studies Department of King’s College London. “There are a lot of problems” for Ukraine at the moment.

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She cited a lack of ammunition, uncertainty about new weapons from Ukraine’s Western allies, a manpower shortage, people’s reluctance to be drafted, the tiredness of troops getting no respite from the front lines, and the question of how Zaluzhnyi’s  departure might affect morale.

Whereas Zaluzhnyi was a proponent at this stage of the war of active defense — securing defensive lines while also searching for Russia’s weak points and hitting rear areas with long-range strikes — Syrskyi “will try to push the Ukrainian forces. … He will try to increase counterattacks possibly,” Miron said in a telephone interview.

That would align with Zelenskyy’s desire to take a more aggressive approach.

The Associated Press spoke with soldiers and commanders on the front lines, who expressed varied views about the changes at the top. Some said they would reserve judgment on Syrskyi until they witness changes on the ground, while others said he was a competent and capable general.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday downplayed Ukraine’s new goals.


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“We don’t think that these are the factors that could change the course of the special (military) operation,” Peskov said, using the Russian government’s euphemism for the war.

Syrskyi, who was born in the Soviet Union and attended Moscow Higher Military Command School and also served in the Soviet Artillery Corps, is described as an obsessive planner, and his comments Friday said his first job was to ensure “clear and detailed planning.”

He also placed emphasis on ensuring the well-being of troops.

“The life and health of servicemen have always been and are the main value of the Ukrainian Army,” said Syrskyi, who is viewed as the architect of the counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in September 2022.

That was the most significant Ukrainian victory of the war, allowing Kyiv to push the Kremlin’s forces out of the cities of Kupiansk and Izium.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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