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Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko holds a picture of army chief Valeriy Salushny

Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa

Amid speculation about the planned dismissal of Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Saluschny, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko has spoken out in support of him. "In many ways it is thanks to Saluschny that the Ukrainians really believed in our armed forces," Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messenger service. The general survived difficult situations several times during the war. However, Klitschko fears that in this case political interests will be put above "common sense and the interests of the state."

The mayor wrote that he hopes that the state leadership understands the seriousness of the situation and the “entire responsibility.” "Because today the fighting ability and unity of the army and unity in society are the main things," he emphasized. The company has doubts about the advisability of the personnel changes. Klitschko called for an end to political intrigues and internal struggles. "We have to fight for one thing today - for the victory of Ukraine," he emphasized.

Tensions between Zelensky and Saluzhny

After persistent media reports about Saluschny's planned dismissal, President Volodymyr Selenskyj admitted plans for personnel changes in an interview with the Italian broadcaster RAI on Sunday. A new beginning is necessary, said Zelensky. A replacement of a number of leading representatives of the state, not just in the army, would therefore be considered. »I'm talking about the fact that a number of heads of state need to be replaced, not just in the army sector. I'm thinking about this replacement. “This is a question for the entire leadership of the country,” said Zelensky in an interview.

According to SPIEGEL information, Selenskyj had already tried to persuade Saluschny to resign in a personal conversation last week. But Saluzhny refused.

It has long been known that the relationship between the president and the army chief is strained. On the one hand, the presidential office suspects Saluschny or at least those around him of harboring political ambitions. The military is extremely popular among the population.

In addition, the relationship of trust between the president and the military has been strained since Saluschny published a detailed article on the course of the war, including an interview, in the British magazine "Economist" in November - without consultation, as the presidential office complained.

Ukraine has been fending off a Russian invasion for almost two years. Saluzhny is credited with great achievements in the defense of Kiev and the reconquest of areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. In polls, the general is more popular than President Zelensky.