Ukraine's Zelensky replaces military and spy chiefs with loyalists

Kiev, July 29, (dpa/GNA) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took many by surprise on Wednesday when he suddenly replaced several high-ranking military and intelligence officers for no apparent reason.







Decrees dismissing the commander of the military operation in eastern Ukraine, the chief of the general staff and the head of the air force were issued on Wednesday night, alongside decrees appointing replacements for each position.

Earlier in the day, the Ukrainian military's commander-in-chief, Ruslan Khomchak, was also dismissed and appointed first deputy secretary of the consultative National Security Council.

In the past week, Zelensky has also made several appointments to top intelligence posts, including that of head of foreign intelligence.

Among the reasons the President's Office gave for the shake-up was enabling the various Ukrainian security agencies to work more effectively together.

The dismissals were preceded in mid-July by the resignation of Arsen Avakov, Zelensky's long-serving interior minister, which many observers saw as being done under duress.

Avakov was replaced by Denis Monastyrsky, a member of Zelensky's Servants of the People party.

Ukrainian media has been full of speculation about Zelensky's recent authoritarian leanings, with many suggesting the president wants to stuff key security posts with loyalists.

Government troops have been fighting Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014.

According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict since then. An internationally brokered peace plan for the region remains stalled.
GNA