Kyiv [Ukraine], February 11 (ANI): In a long-anticipated move, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has replaced General Valerii Zaluzhnyi as the head of Ukraine's armed forces, marking a significant shift in the country's military leadership amid ongoing tensions with Russia, reported CNN.

Speculation was rife for over a week before Zelenskyy's announcement on February 8, reflecting the strained relationship between him and Zaluzhnyi over recent months.

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The change comes at a crucial moment in the war with Russia, with Ukrainian units facing challenges along various fronts, particularly in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. Shortages of ammunition and experienced personnel have added to the complexities faced by Ukrainian forces, as per CNN.

President Zelenskyy acknowledged the need for urgent changes, stating, "The feeling of stagnation in the southern areas and the difficulties in the fighting in the Donetsk region have affected the public mood."

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According to CNN, the appointment of General Oleksandr Syrskyi as Zaluzhnyi's successor signifies a potential shift in Ukrainian military strategy. While Syrskyi is seen as a consensus choice, concerns linger regarding his leadership style and effectiveness.

Syrskyi has been in command of land forces since the Russian invasion but was criticized for extending the defense of Bakhmut at great human cost. Subordinates have described him as lacking empathy and some soldiers took to calling him "General 200" (200 is the military code for killed-in-action.)

Matthew Schmidt, Director of the International Affairs programme at the University of New Haven, says, "Maybe it's a phase in the war where a safe choice is the right move."

Syrskyi faces immediate challenges, including stabilizing the front lines, replenishing depleted ranks, and expediting the delivery of Western munitions to bolster Ukrainian defenses.

Amid persistent Russian attacks around Avdiivka and Kupyansk, "the first priority is to make sure you can hold the current line of contact," Schmidt says.

The head of Ukrainian Military Intelligence, Lt Gen Kyrylo Budanov, told CNN at the end of January that ammunition is "one of the most decisive factors" in the war.

With the Biden administration's package of USD 61 billion in military aid blocked in Congress, the US has been sending smaller packages for several months, and the slowdown has already begun affecting the Ukrainian military's planning and operations, according to US officials.

Schmidt says "the immediate priority is to get enough artillery shells to the front to keep the Russians from exploiting the pause in US aid. Each artillery shell that's available to fire equates to needing fewer infantry to hold the line."

This week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: "If you ask a soldier at the front what he needs most right now, he will say shells. This answer was the same yesterday, a month ago, six months ago and a year ago."

The scarcity of artillery shells remains a pressing issue, with US military aid facing delays in Congress. Efforts to enhance European production of munitions are underway but falling short of targets.

With Russia's substantial manpower advantage, estimated to be three times greater than Ukraine's, and ongoing military adaptations, Ukraine seeks to narrow the technological gap through investments in unmanned systems and cyber technology.

Ukraine's more professional units are exhausted by two years of non-stop combat, and their ranks are thinned by casualties. Ukraine does not publish figures, but US officials estimate that as many as 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and nearly twice that number have been injured.

In a column for CNN last week, Zaluzhnyi said: "We must acknowledge the significant advantage enjoyed by the enemy in mobilizing human resources and how that compares with the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures."

Zelenskyy emphasised the importance of domestic drone technology, which has already demonstrated effectiveness in thwarting Russian advances in key areas.

While filling Zaluzhnyi's shoes poses a challenge, the focus remains on fostering unity and purpose within Ukraine's leadership amid a precarious window of vulnerability.

As the conflict evolves, Ukraine navigates a complex landscape while confronting Russian strategic maneuvers and internal pressures. The nation's resolve remains tested amidst ongoing geopolitical dynamics.

The appointment of General Syrskyi underscores Ukraine's commitment to adaptability and resilience in the face of persistent challenges on multiple fronts. (ANI)

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