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Ukraine: Zelensky appoints Oleksandr Pavliuk as new ground forces chief

Zelensky appoints Oleksandr Pavliuk as Ukraine’s new ground forces chief
Zelensky appoints Oleksandr Pavliuk as Ukraine’s new ground forces chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has named Oleksandr Pavliuk, the former first deputy defense minister, as the new head of Ukraine’s ground forces, according to a decree issued on Sunday.

Pavliuk, a lieutenant-general who previously served in the defense ministry for a year, takes over from Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was appointed as the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces earlier in the week.

In addition to these changes, Zelensky announced five other key military appointments on Saturday, as part of efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s ongoing invasion, which has persisted for nearly two years.

Facing a shortage of personnel and equipment, Ukraine has made minimal progress on the battlefield over the past year. Compounding these challenges is a disruption in military aid from the United States, its primary supporter.

Russian president Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine from the north, east, and south on February 24, 2022, threatening to destabilize Europe’s post-Cold War order.

According to a report, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Oleksandr Pavliuk, former first deputy defence minister, as the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, according to a decree published today.

Mr Pavliuk, a lieutenant-general who served in the ministry role for a year, replaces Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi after he was tapped this week as commander of Ukraine’s armed forces.

Yesterday, Mr Zelensky announced five other senior military appointments, filling out a rebooted team to bolster Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion.

Ukraine is experiencing a shortage of men and equipment as it heads into 2024 having made few battlefield gains throughout the past year.

It also faces a disruption in military aid from the United States, its biggest backer.

Ukraine’s top commander Valery Zaluzhny was removed from his post on Thursday, in the biggest shake-up of Kyiv’s military leadership since Russia’s invasion began almost two years ago.

The popular general had led the Ukrainian army since the start of the war, pushing back a vastly more powerful invading force in the first months of the conflict.

But the failure of a much-vaunted counteroffensive last summer and public disagreement with Mr Zelensky tarnished his reputation in the president’s office.

Meanwhile, Russia launched drone attacks on Kyiv and southern Ukraine overnight, injuring at least one civilian and damaging a gas pipeline and residential buildings in the river and sea port of Mykolaiv, Ukraine’s military has said.

Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app that its air defence systems destroyed 40 out of 45 Russia-launched Shahed attack drones overnight.

“The air alert in the capital lasted almost two hours,” Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on Telegram.

He added that over Kyiv all the drones were downed on their approach.

According to preliminary information, there were no casualties nor destruction in or near the capital.

Skies over Kyiv were declared clear soon before 4 am (2am Irish).

Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram that its air defence systems were engaged for more than five hours and destroyed 26 Russia-launched Shahed drones over several southern regions, chiefly over the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea.

At least one civilian was injured in the southern Ukraine attack, the military said.

“The priority for the enemy was again the coastal strip of infrastructure and agro-industrial facilities,” the military said.

Falling debris from a downed drone and the blast wave damaged residential buildings and a gas pipeline in Mykolaiv, the military command said.

Four drones were downed over the Black Sea port of Odesa, the military said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

Both Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks away from the frontline in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.


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