Zelensky replaces top Ukrainian general amid criticism from Azov Brigade — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Zelensky replaces top Ukrainian general amid criticism from Azov Brigade

Yuriy Sodol. Photo: armyinform.com.ua

Yuriy Sodol. Photo: armyinform.com.ua

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the dismissal of the commander of the Joint Forces Command of Ukraine’s military, Lieutenant General Yuriy Sodol, on Monday evening amid reports of widespread dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Sodol is to be replaced by Brigadier General Andriy Hnatov, Zelensky said in his nightly address on Monday, without detailing the reason for Sodol’s dismissal.

However, his removal came just a day after Bohdan Krotevych, the chief of staff of the Azov Brigade, a detachment of Ukraine’s National Guard, revealed that he had written to the country’s State Bureau of Investigations to request an investigation into a commander, who he alleged had “killed more Ukrainian soldiers than any Russian general”.

While his post did not name Sodol directly, Krotevych said that all military personnel would know to whom he was referring as “99% of the military hate him for what he does”. He also accused Sodol of having overseen the “loss of regions, dozens of cities and thousands of soldiers”.

Online news outlet Ukrainska Pravda later cited a source from Ukraine’s military leadership who confirmed that Krotevych had accused Sodol of “abuse of power and incompetent command” of Ukraine’s troops and requested an investigation into his “potential collaboration with Russia”.

Sodol, who led Ukraine’s forces in the east of the country, had also drawn criticism from parliamentary deputy Mariana Bezuhla, who accused him on Sunday of “drinking in Odesa” as the Ukrainian army “lost positions that soldiers have held at the cost of their lives since 2014” amid intensified Russian attacks in the country’s eastern Donetsk region.

Sodol’s appointment to head the Joint Forces Command dates from a major shakeup in February that saw the army’s popular Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi replaced by former Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Ukrainian defence analyst Illia Ponomarenko praised Krotevych for having filed the complaint against Sodol, whom he called an “extremely unpopular high-ranking military commander with a notoriously gruesome service record”.

Hnatov, his replacement as commander of the Joint Forces Command, has previously served as chief of staff and deputy commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces’ Operational Command South and led the defence of the city of Bakhmut in spring 2023.

Reacting to news of Hnatov’s appointment, Krotevych called him a “very worthy officer” and expressed the hope that “news from the front will improve” with the Joint Forces under his command.

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