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Ukraine Armed Forces: A hated new commander

A general popular with his troops is more of a coup danger than a general distrusted by his troops, hated by some of them.

The Ukrainian President Zelenski has fired the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces General Zaluzny.


Zaluzny was replaced by General Syrski, a somewhat unexpected choice as Syrski is hated by the troops for pushing them into meat grinders without a perspective of winning. Syrski, who was born as a Russian, had lost the cauldron battles of Debaltsevo (2015), Soledar (2023) and Bakhmut (2023). Currently Avdeevka is in a cauldron and likely to fall.


Rumors say that Syrski already ordered reserves to reinforce the troops in Avdeevka. Russian FAB bombs will welcome them.

UKRAINE - Zelensky wants 500,000 more conscripts

The Economist describes Syrski as thus:


General Syrsky has a reputation for being willing to engage the enemy, even if the cost in men and machines is high. He is a divisive figure who provokes strong reactions from serving officers. Some praise his professionalism, others say he terrifies his subordinates and rules by fear. He is less likely to question the priorities of his president. As he takes on the top job, he will have to soften his style of command and learn to speak truth to power.


The reorganisation will also cause disruption as officers shift to new positions in the chain of command. It is important that these changes do not degrade Ukraine’s capacity to fight. Before long, the country will need a new mobilization even if General Syrsky uses his troops mostly for defense—as, for now, he should.


Simplicius discusses the most plausible reason why Zaluzny got fired and Syrski promoted:


Ask yourself, why would Zelensky appoint a commander that the entire armed forces allegedly hates? In fact, this is a ‘design feature’ not a bug.


Recall that the reason Zaluzhny was given the boot was he had become too powerful: he was too loved by the troops, and by the people.


Why? One of the reasons is likely because he fought for the troops multiple times. In early 2023, documents were leaked showing that he nearly begged Zelensky to pull troops back from Bakhmut, but the narco-Fuhrer refused, wanting it as a symbolic city defense—perhaps taken with romantic delusions of Stalingrad.


During the grand summer ‘counteroffensive’, Zaluzhny pulled the brigades of the 10th Army Corps back and began to use them sparingly—much to the chagrin and disapproval of US sponsors—after the initial first few wipes devastated columns of Leopards and Bradleys along the infamous road of death near Rabotino and Mala Tokmachka.


Recently it was claimed Zaluzhny likewise attempted to get Avdeevka totally withdrawn. It does not seem that he likes to waste men for what he knows to be fruitless efforts.


Syrsky on the other hand appears glad to grind them down.

So, has it become obvious yet? Zelensky needs a commander-in-chief he can control, someone not universally loved by the troops; someone who cannot use those troops at a time of opportunity to ‘march on Kiev’ and oust Zelensky from his citadel.


Syrsky appears to fit the perfect prototypical role: undefiant, unpopular, uncharismatic, and most importantly, untempted by political ambitions—the ideal subserviant factotum to Zelensky’s regime.


There is no word yet what Zaluzny is going to do. He has the respect of the troops and good relations with the 'nationalists', i.e. the Nazi fringe militia of Ukraine. He also has the support of some politicians opposed to Zelenski.


A coup is thereby a possible outcome of this change.


A Washington Post article, sources from interviews at the Ukrainian front, describes the utter shamble the Ukrainian forces are in:


In interviews across the front line in recent days, nearly a dozen soldiers and commanders told The Washington Post that personnel deficits were their most critical problem now, as Russia has regained the offensive initiative on the battlefield and is stepping up its attacks.


One battalion commander in a mechanized brigade fighting in eastern Ukraine said that his unit currently has fewer than 40 infantry troops — the soldiers deployed in front-line trenches who hold off Russian assaults. A fully equipped battalion would have more than 200, the commander said.


Under normal circumstances a mechanized battalion is supposed to hold a 3 kilometer long frontline. With only 40 infantry soldiers available that becomes an impossible task. The further deterioration from that depleted state will be rapid.


Oleksandr, a battalion commander, said the companies in his unit on average are staffed at about 35 percent of what they should be. A second battalion commander from an assault brigade said that is typical for units that carry out combat tasks.


Asked how many new soldiers he has received — not including those who have returned after injuries — Oleksandr said his battalion was sent five people over the past five months.


He and other commanders said the new recruits tend to be poorly trained, creating a dilemma about whether to send someone immediately onto the battlefield because reinforcements are needed so badly, even though they are likely to get injured or killed because they lack the know-how.


“The basis of everything is the lack of people,” Oleksandr said.


“Where are we going? I don’t know,” he added. “There’s no positive outlook. Absolutely none. It’s going to end in a lot of death, a global failure. And most likely, I think, the front will collapse somewhere like it did for the enemy in 2022, in the Kharkiv region.”


The new Ukrainian mobilization law, which is supposed to refill the army with fresh bodies, is still creeping through the Ukrainian parliament. It will likely come into force only by April. The first new troops conscripted under it will take until July to be combat capable. One wonders is the current Ukrainian army can hold that long.

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