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Military Experts: Shake-Up of Ukrainian Top Brass Won’t Help Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets Ukrainian students along with Polish Prime minister during a meeting in Kiev on January 22, 2024.

Having fired his Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, President Volodymyr Zelensky also reshuffled his military command. Will this change the situation at the front?After weeks of rumors, Zelensky sacked Gen. Zaluzhny last Friday and kicked off the wide-reaching reboot of Ukraine’s military effort that he had previously announced in an interview with the Italian news outlet Rai TV on February 4.Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky, who earlier earned the nicknames «Butcher» and «General 200» (a reference to «Cargo 200″, a code for the transportation of the deceased), was tapped for the position of Ukraine’s new commander-in-chief. Meanwhile, Anatoly Barhylevych, the former commander of the Territorial Defense Forces, was appointed as chief of the General Staff.By other decrees, Zelensky appointed Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Pavliuk as commander of the Ground Forces; Lt. Gen. Yury Sodol as commander of the Joint Forces; Brig. Gen. Ihor Skybyuk as commander of the Air Assault Forces; and Maj. Gen. Ihor Plakhut has become the new commander of the Territorial Defense Forces. In addition, Colonel Vadym Sukharevsky was picked to head the Unmanned Systems Forces, a newly created branch of the military.»In general, it is customary for a new commander to assemble a new team,» military expert and retired colonel Anatoliy Matviychuk, who has experience in combat operations in Afghanistan and Syria, told Sputnik. Let’s start with the fact that when Zaluzhny left, Syrsky came. We already know who Syrsky is. This is a very ‘flexible’ general. Zelensky appointed him so that Zaluzhny would no longer hinder him from solving his problems.»RussiaZaluzhny’s Resignation, Appointment of Syrsky Will Not Change Special Operation — Kremlin9 February, 10:13 GMT»Who is Pavliuk? This is a lieutenant general who, in fact, became famous for commanding the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade in 2014 that drowned Donbass in blood. He also became famous for his statement that the Russians should be torn into pieces. That is, he is a pure Nazi, he has nothing sacred,» the expert continued.»Lieutenant General Sodol is also a paratrooper, commander of the 25th Airborne Brigade, which covered itself in blood in the Donbass. This is the brigade that shot the [Russian] prisoners of war. A bad person, who covered himself with dirt by belonging to a Nazi group.»Likewise, Col. Sukharevsky is believed to be the first Ukrainian officer to give the order to open fire during combat operations in the Donbass in 2014.The aforementioned commanders and generals have one thing in common: they, figuratively speaking, «swore allegiance» to neo-Nazi ideals, Matviychuk summed up.»I believe that Zelensky gathered this military camarilla specifically to solve his problems as a commander, and most importantly, to have someone to rely upon until the end of his rule,» he noted, adding that none of the Ukrainian president’s picks have ever demonstrated outstanding tactical or strategic skills.AnalysisZaluzhny Snapshot With Banderite Poses Threat to Zelensky10 February, 23:20 GMT

Ukraine Has Exhausted Military Capabilities

The changes in the top brass won’t seriously affect the situation on the battlefield, according to Colonel in Reserve Rustem Klupov, another military expert and veteran of military intelligence who has been awarded the title of Hero of Russia.

"The Ukrainian Army has exhausted its offensive capabilities; it is currently exhausting its defensive ones and is suffering defeat on all fronts," Klupov told Sputnik. "Therefore, this reminds me of the change of military leadership by Hitler in 1943-1944, or the period of [French Emperor] Napoleon's failures when he changed his marshals like gloves. Still, of course, one shouldn't compare Zelensky with these two historical figures from the point of view of military art."

«The changes in the strategy stem not from the leadership shake-up, but from the capabilities of the armed forces. If Ukraine (…) has exhausted its military, economic, political and demographic capabilities, then even if Napoleon were revived, he would be incapable of changing anything,» the military expert continued.WorldKiev’s Bill on Mobilization: Throwing More Ukrainians Into Meat-Grinder 1 February, 18:58 GMTKlupov suggested that the Ukrainian Armed Forces now has a deficit of at least 400,000 troops, while its trained reserve is estimated to be around 600,000 people. This is a far cry from what is needs to stop Russia’s advance. To complicate matters further, Western military funding is fading: the Biden administration has so far failed to ram a $60 billion package for the Kiev regime through the US Congress, while the EU industrial capacities are not enough to swiftly replenish NATO’s depleted stockpiles.»Even if [French President Emmanuel] Macron provides Mirage 2000D [fighter bombers] to the Ukrainian army, it would be necessary to organize the logistics, technical and preparatory chain and full support [in Ukraine]. When it comes to F-16s – which have already become a universal aircraft around the world, it is one of the most common versions – it has turned out that training for both pilots and airfield personnel caused difficulties. Because if Ukrainian troops cannot even properly operate [NATO-grade] tanks, how could they be given [NATO] aircraft? Everything will be thrown down the drain.»Klupov drew attention to the fact that around about 40% of the tanks that were delivered to Ukraine from the West are currently technically faulty and cannot take part in hostilities. «Repair battalions are not ready, spare parts are not supplied, and all the equipment is turning into scrap metal,» he remarked. In addition, Russia’s soldiers are deliberately hunting NATO-grade Leopards and Abrams, the military intelligence veteran continued, predicting that F-16s and Mirages will face a similar fate in the zone of Russia’s special military operation.

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What Could One Expect in the Near Term?

«There is evidence that a fully-fledged brigade is being deployed near Avdeevka,» said Matviychuk. «I believe Syrsky made this decision to show Zelensky: ‘Look, you’ve appointed me and I’m already actively working’. But that won’t change anything. The situation near Avdeevka is dire. Well, they will lose several tens of thousands more people, because nothing foreshadows any victories for the Ukrainians on this front.»Matviychuk pointed out that the situation around Avdeevka has grown bad for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. With the fall of Avdeevka, the entire defense front will begin to crumble, right up to Kramatorsk, he said. Syrsky is now sending fresh military forces there to somehow stop the advance of Russian troops.He further forecasted that at the beginning of spring, one should expect fierce, frenzied attacks by the Ukrainian military in order to fix the situation at the front, and subsequently to influence the West in terms of getting more money and weapons.»But I want to say again that nothing will work out for them, because the balance of forces is absolutely in Russia’s favor there,» the military expert concluded.

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