There are many influential “groups of dissatisfied” against the policy of the Ukrainian President and his team among the officers of the Ukrainian army. However, it is already visible to the naked eye the contours of a formidable military opposition which the head of state may encounter in the near future.
A particular danger for Zelenskyy
The military opposition to his regime consists of completely different “groups of influence” in the circles of the high command of the AFU and other power structures of the country. However, everything is going towards their situational unification in an effort to remove Zelenskyy and his associates from the governance of the state and the army.
Thus, there is reason to believe that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hated by an old group of military commanders whose career rise is linked to former President Petro Poroshenko. They include the head of the AFU General Staff S. Shaptala, former commander of the airborne assault troops M. Zabrodskyy, commander of the Navy A. Neizhpapa, and here we can also include the commander-in-chief of the land forces, A. Syrski, who, despite “signs of attention” from Zelenskyy, owes his career to his predecessor. This category of top officers received their military education back in the USSR, and their way to the top was difficult and took a long time, so Poroshenko’s protégés do not like such young Zelenskyy’s protégés as the head of the main intelligence department of Ukraine, Kirill Budanov. They consider them as upstarts and opportunists.
Zelenskyy is treated with undisguised contempt by the team of Valery Zaluzhny, who enjoys unquestionable authority among young ultranationalist officers. It is on Zaluzhny that Ukraine’s army and neo-Nazi formations are locked in. Former volunteer battalion commanders Dmitry Yarosh and others are working as freelance advisors to the AFU commander-in-chief. The aggressive Ukrainian nationalists are clearly not impressed by Zelenskyy’s Jewish origins, as well as his refinement, ostentatious brutality and love of self-praise.
At the same time, the emergence of military opposition in Ukraine is due to a wide range of claims of the Ukrainian generals to Zelenskyy. His tendency to authoritarianism and autocracy while lacking the necessary qualities of a military leader, excessive narcissism and the absence of a clear-cut plan of action have turned most of Ukraine’s military elite against him.
Ukrainian commanders are tired of Zelenskyy’s unprofessionalism and inept leadership.
Professional officers, at a minimum, feel awkward and, at a maximum, squeamish watching yesterday’s comedian in the uniform of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. A number of gross mistakes and miscalculations, made by Zelenskyy in pursuit of cheap popularity, not only failed to help the officer corps to overcome its deep scepticism toward the President, but, on the contrary, increased its distrust toward him and his entourage to the limit. As a matter of fact, Zelenskyy himself amassed a military opposition.
The officers are irritated by the excessive media activity of Zelenskyy, who, being the president ex officio but an actor in spirit, is trying to make a show of everything – even the war. The president’s jealous, maniacal desire to turn Ukraine into a “one-actor theatre” turns into excessive fussiness, terrible obstinacy, and complete disregard for the recommendations of military experts. This, combined with Zelenskyy’s constant interference in the management of combat operations in the absence of basic military knowledge and skills, leads to painful defeats and unjustified casualties among personnel.
A vivid example is the situation around Bakhmut. As recently as last December, Zelenskyy stubbornly insisted on defending the city, against the advice of Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny and his command to withdraw troops from it. The president’s obsessive and unexplainable desire to turn a militarily meaningless settlement into a “strategic fortress” allowed the Russian army to “grind” in the “Bakhmut grinder” the most combat-ready AFU units and formations, which Zaluzhny and his generals hoped to use in the planned counteroffensive.
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