Ukraine’s Armed Forces Must Evolve in Order to Win: New Military Chief

Ukrainian Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky on Friday made his first public statement since being appointed Kyiv’s commander-in-chief, writing that changes and “constant improvement” of Ukraine’s Armed Forces were necessary to win the war against Russia.

Syrsky was appointed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, replacing the former commander-in-chief, General Valerii Zaluzhny, who had held the role since July 2021. In a post to his Telegram channel, Syrsky thanked his “combat brothers and sisters” for their fight against Russia’s invasion, praising the soldiers’ “success, professionalism, dedication to the defense of the Motherland.”

Oleksandr Syrsky, then-commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, awards fighters of the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade “Edelweiss” on July 2 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. Syrsky on Friday issued his first statement as commander-in-chief, identifying the…

Yuriy Mate/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

“New tasks are on the agenda,” the commander-in-chief continued. “First of all, this is a clear and detailed planning of the actions of all military administration bodies, associations, connections and units, taking into account the needs of the front in the latest weapons that come from international partners.”

Among the tasks listed by Syrsky include knowing the “fastest and most rational distribution and delivery of everything necessary for combat.” He also noted that knowing the needs of Ukraine’s troops on the front lines “without exception” was a goal for the Armed Force’s “headquarters at all levels,” and highlighted that the “life and health of servicemen” is the “main value” of Kyiv’s armed forces, promising to maintain a balance “between the performance of combat tasks and the restoration of units.”

“Only changes and constant improvement of the means and methods of warfare will make it possible to achieve success on this path,” the commander added. “But, of course, a reliable rear is one of the main components of overall success in war.”

Newsweek on Friday reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense via email for comment on Syrsky’s appointment.

Syrsky, 58, previously served as commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces before assuming the commander-in-chief role and was also a leader behind Kyiv’s successful counteroffensive against Russia in fall 2022. According to Reuters, the general has lived in Ukraine since the 1980s after studying at Higher Military Command School in Moscow. At the time, Ukraine was known as the “Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic” as part of the Soviet Union.

Questions regarding the position of Ukraine’s commander-in-chief circulated for months after reports surfaced in November that disagreements had escalated between Zaluzhny and Zelensky. The Ukrainian president said in a televised address Thursday evening that the decision to replace Zaluzhny was “not about politics” but about Ukraine’s “army system, about the management of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and about involving the experience of this war’s combat-hardened commanders.”