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Zelensky sacks senior military commander

Yury Sodol was reportedly unpopular with his subordinates, who blamed him for steep losses on the battlefield

Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky has replaced the commander of his military’s Joint Forces Command, Lieutenant General Yury Sodol, amid claims that Sodol’s alleged incompetence “has killed more Ukrainian soldiers than any Russian general.”

Following a meeting with military leadership on Monday, Zelensky announced that Sodol would be replaced immediately by Brigadier-General Andrey Hnatov. Zelensky did not elaborate on why Sodol was sacked, but calls for the general’s dismissal had previously come from further down the command chain.

As commander of the Joint Forces Command, Sodol oversaw the combined operations of the country’s army, navy, and air force. Within the structure of the Ukrainian military, he answered only to Commander-in-Chief Aleksandr Syrsky.

In a post to his Telegram channel earlier on Monday, Azov Brigade acting commander Bogdan Krotevich said that he had written a letter to Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) demanding that Sodol be investigated for incompetence.

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Sodol “in my opinion, has killed more Ukrainian soldiers than any Russian general,” Krotevich wrote, adding that any Ukrainian successes on the battlefield were “not due to, but in spite of” his command.

Since the conflict with Russia began in 2022, Zelensky has responded to battlefield setbacks on several occasions by purging senior military and political officials. Syrsky’s predecessor, Valery Zaluzhny, was fired earlier this year after Ukraine lost – according to Russia – roughly 160,000 men in last summer’s disastrous counteroffensive. Last September, Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov was sacked over his alleged role in major corruption scandals that apparently hindered the offensive.

Last month, Zelensky sacked numerous political officials perceived as being close to US leadership in Washington, before firing his state security chief amid an alleged plot by officers to assassinate multiple top officials, including Zelensky himself.

Sodol’s dismissal came after Russian forces seized dozens of towns and villages in Kharkov Region – which borders Russia – in a surprise offensive in early May. Across the entire theater of operations, Ukrainian casualties have increased since the beginning of the year. Russian President Vladimir Putin put Kiev’s current losses at around 50,000 per month. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the Ukrainian military lost more than 1,900 troops on Saturday alone as a result of Russian attacks along the entire front line.

June 25, 2024 at 01:13AM

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