Controversial Interview with Ukraine's Chief of Staff Zaluzhny and the Ukrainian Government's Response

An interview with Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine's Chief of Staff, by The Economist has generated a strong reaction and led to personnel changes.

06/11/2023 - 13:22
Source: CNN
Source: CNN

The war with Russia has reached an impasse, and a major technological breakthrough would be required to extricate from it, an outcome deemed unlikely, admitted General Valery Zaluzhny, the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian army, in an interview with British publication The Economist, as reported by

As noted by The Economist, Ukraine has only managed to move the front line 17 kilometers during five months of counteroffensive, undermining Western hopes that effective expulsion of Russians from occupied territories would persuade Vladimir Putin of the futility of victory and compel him to engage in negotiations.

Zaluzhny acknowledged his mistake in expecting that the depletion of the Russian army would force Russia to cease military actions.

"It was my mistake. Russia lost no less than 150,000 people. In any other country, such a number of casualties would have halted the war," he noted.

Zaluzhny mentioned that, as there are no signs of an expected technological breakthrough in the near future, it appears that Ukraine is stuck in a protracted trench warfare. Such warfare would provide Russia with an opportunity to recover, increase its defensive potential, and maintain a long-term advantage in weaponry, equipment, and ammunition. Nevertheless, he emphasized that Ukraine has no alternative but to retain the initiative by continuing the offensive, even if it advances only a few meters per day, as the greatest risk is getting stuck in trenches.

Zaluzhny also highlighted the shortage of Ukrainian reservists and suggested expanding the category of citizens subject to mobilization. The general complained about "loopholes in the laws" that allowed Ukrainians to successfully evade being sent to the front.

It's worth noting that, according to Time, the average age of a mobilized Ukrainian soldier has reached 43 years.

Shortly after the interview, Igor Zhovkva, the Deputy Head of the Presidential Office, criticized Zaluzhny for his remarks about a deadlock. According to Zhovkva, Zaluzhny's article provoked "panic" among Western leaders.

"This is not a deadlock. Russia controls the sky. We are protecting our soldiers. No one wants to just throw them like Russia throws its people as if they were meat. How to overcome this? We need to wait for the F-16s, for the guys to learn, for them to return. When there's air defense on the front, the military moves forward, utilizing equipment," stated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Shortly after Zaluzhny's interview, the commander of Ukraine's Special Operations Forces was replaced. Viktor Khorenko replaced Serhiy Lupanchuk in this position.

In a comment to "Ukrainska Pravda," Viktor Khorenko stated that he is unaware of the reasons for his dismissal.

"Let me put it this way: I found out about it through the media. I spoke with the Commander-in-Chief (Valery Zaluzhny), who also couldn't explain it to me. The Chief of Staff was supposed to make a corresponding presentation, but he told me he hadn't done that. I don't understand what happened," Khorenko remarked.

However, many experts associate this change with Zaluzhny's interview and the increasing tension between the President of Ukraine and the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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