The new chief of the General Staff of Ukraine is not as popular as his predecessor. But he considers himself efficient.

Portrait of a man with a cap.

General Oleksandr Syrskyi Photo: EPA-EFE / Vitalii Nosach

Kyiv taz | The new chief of the Ukrainian General Staff, Olexandr Syrskyj, has a problem: he must constantly be measured against his predecessor, Valeryi Zalushnyj.

In Ukraine, the affable and seemingly always good-humored Saluschnyj from Zhytomyr, central Ukraine, is seen much more as “one of us” than the introverted Syrskyj, 58, who was born in Novinki, Russia, and who completed his studies. upbringing in Moscow, he speaks only mediocre Ukrainian and whose parents and brother live in Russia, where they are said to be Putin fans.

The man with an ascetic lifestyle is considered a workaholic who plans his projects with mathematical precision. However, he says, he loves his soldiers more than his weapons. He once confided to the Ukrainian broadcaster TSN that people are his greatest asset. Only then would weapons such as rocket launchers, air defense and artillery arrive.

However, this is exactly what many people do not believe. American and British media repeatedly cite anonymous Ukrainian military sources describing him as a “butcher” and “General-200”; “200” in post-Soviet military parlance means corpse transportation.

The Savior of Kyiv and Kharkiv

However, there are good reasons why President Zelenskyj chose Syrskyj: he can demonstrate military successes. Largely thanks to him, kyiv was not captured by Russian troops at the beginning of the war. He can also take credit for recapturing parts of the Kharkiv region. However, Syrskyj had less success with Soledar, Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

Although Syrsky received his military training in Moscow, his military career took place in Ukraine. From 1993 to 1995 he was commander of a rifle battalion of the 17th Regiment in Ukraine and then commanded the 6th National Guard Division. From 2000 to 2002 he was chief of staff and initially first deputy commander and later commander of the 8th Army Corps.

In 2007 he became the first deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command of the Armed Forces and from 2011 to 2012 he was the first deputy head of the Main Department of Military Cooperation and Peacekeeping Operations of the General Staff. In early 2019, President Poroshenko appointed him head of military operations in Donbass, and soon after his successor Zelensky appointed him head of the army.

And Syrskyj does not like negotiations with Russia. For him, there will only be peace when the Ukrainian flag flies everywhere in Crimea.