The news about Zaluzhny comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to enter its third year. Ukrinform/Cover Images/AP

Ukrainian President Zelensky is expected to announce the dismissal of popular army chief Valery Zaluzhny, following tensions and a reported rift between the two leaders. The move, anticipated by the end of the week, marks a significant military shakeup and comes after Zaluzhny’s description of the war with Russia as a stalemate. Despite official denials, sources reveal that Zelensky informed Zaluzhny of his decision during a meeting on Monday, offering an alternative position which was declined.

Rumors of Zaluzhny’s dismissal surfaced in Kyiv on Monday, reinforcing speculation about strained relations between the president and his commander-in-chief. The Ukrainian counteroffensive’s limited success in rolling back Russian forces heightened tensions, especially when Zaluzhny characterized the conflict as a stalemate in an interview with The Economist.

Potential successors for Zaluzhny include Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Defense Intelligence Directorate, known for strong ties with Zelensky, and Oleksandr Syrskyi, the current Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces. The anticipated announcement follows Ukraine’s call for a massive mobilization effort of up to half a million new conscripts due to the lack of progress in the counteroffensive.

Despite Zaluzhny’s popularity, with an 88% approval rating, Zelensky’s decision underscores tensions within the leadership. The move is viewed by some as a response to the perceived ineffectiveness of the counteroffensive, while others express concern over the potential consequences of removing a respected military leader during a critical phase of the conflict.