President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 27 dismissed Ruslan Khomchak from the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on the same day appointing Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny.
That’s according to Serhiy Nykyforov, the Ukrainian president’s press secretary, who spoke at a briefing in Kyiv on Monday, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.
"Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, is stepping down. This is the president's decision. Volodymyr Zelensky has no doubts about Ruslan Khomchak's patriotism, loyalty to his oath, and professionalism, but the president wants to see a synergy between the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Ukraine," the spokesperson said.
Nykyforov added that, unfortunately, such synergy is nowhere to be seen at the moment, unlike conflicts.
As Ukrinform reported earlier, on March 28, 2020, Zelensky appointed Khomchak Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Prior to that, since May 2019, Khomchak had been Chief of the General Staff Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Ruslan Khomchak was appointed First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, replacing Mykhailo Koval who was dismissed from the post.
Also during the briefing, Nykyforov said President Zelensky had appointed Valeriy Zaluzhny as new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.
"The president is grateful to Ruslan Khomchak for his service, but Valeriy Zaluzhny, Commander of the Pivnich (North – ed.) Operational Command, has been appointed Commander-in-Chief," Nykyforov said.
A statement released on the president’s official website on July 27 quoted Zelensky as saying that “the defense sphere must function steadily, in a coordinated manner, with a clear perspective and without misunderstandings between the leaders.”
Over the past months, Ukrainian media reports claimed disputes between Ruslan Khomchak and Defense Minister Andriy Taran led to the fact that the two top military officials severed personal communication altogether.
The move to replace the Army’s commander-in-chief comes as part of what seems to be Zelensky’s ongoing sweep of the security and defense sector amid the recent reshuffles in the SBU Security Service and SZRU Foreign Intelligence.
- In December 2019, Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny (46) was appointed Commander of the Pivnich (North – ed.) Operational Command. He previously held the positions of Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces First Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces (2018), and Chief of Staff First Deputy Commander of the Zakhid (West – ed.) Operational Command (2017). Also, he led the 51st Separate Mechanized Brigade (2009-2012) and the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade (2007-2009).
- Zaluzhny was born in the city of Novohrad-Volynsky, Zhytomyr region, on July 8, 1973.
- In 1997, he graduated with honors from the General Military Faculty of the Odesa Higher United Command.
- In 2007, he graduated with a gold medal from the National Defense Academy.
- Zaluzhny was promoted to become major general on August 23, 2017.