NEW YORK, February 2. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky wants to sack the Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, for his secret talks with the West about the possibility of a ceasefire and peace process, US journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh said on his blog.
"Zelensky’s desire to fire his commanding general is the result, some Americans believe, of his knowledge that Zaluzhny had continued to participate—whether directly or through aides is not known—in secret talks since last fall with American and other Western officials on how best to achieve a ceasefire and negotiate an end to the war with Russia," Hersh wrote on his blog on Substack.
The journalist convinced that as a result of these secret discussions, Zaluzhny eventually admitted in an article for The Economist that the conflict in Ukraine was in a stalemate.
Meanwhile, an unnamed US official described the conflict between Zelensky and Zaluzhny as "an old-fashioned power struggle."
"Of course, Zelensky knew that Zaluzhny was dealing with the West," the official said. "But Zelensky will be a dead man walking with the army, which is in favor of the general. He’s going to have a mutiny on his hands."
On Monday, former Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) lawmaker Borislav Bereza said that Zaluzhny had been removed from the post of Ukraine’s top military commander. For his part, Verkhovna Rada member Alexey Goncharenko (listed as a terrorist and extremist by Russia's Federal Service for Financial Monitoring) said that Zaluzhny had been notified of his dismissal, but that there had been no official decree to that effect. Later, Ukrainian presidential spokesman Sergey Nikiforov said that Zelensky had not fired Zaluzhny. However, speculation about Zaluzhny’s future continues to swirl in the Ukrainian media and on social networks.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Zelensky had already made up his mind to dismiss Zaluzhny, but that the official announcement may be postponed. Later, CNN clarified that the official decree sacking the commander would be signed by the end of this week.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that there are a lot of questions about the news of Zaluzhny’s dismissal but it is obvious that "everything is not going well" for the Kiev regime. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asserted that the situation around Zaluzhny vividly reflects the death throes and disintegration of Ukraine's statehood.
Cessation of hostilities and an end to President Vladimir Zelensky’s rule
The new US policy on Ukraine envisages support for Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, a cessation of hostilities, economic reforms and an end to President Vladimir Zelensky’s rule, Hersh said.
"The actual concept is far more complicated and far more ambitious, I was told by the official, and envisions sustained support for Zaluzhny and reforms that would lead to the end of the Zelensky regime," Hersh wrote on his blog on Substack.
He said that forging a new strategy requires "consultation and education of key patriotic and realistic Ukrainians."
"The danger with such reform is that there will be leaks to the press and an effort by the entrenched corrupt beneficiaries of the US ‘free lunch’ policy to derail the process," the journalist continued.
"The strategy now being proposed is to settle the war and settle the financial plan for Ukraine," he quoted a US official as saying.