IIn Olexandr Syrskyj's first speech as commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, a sentence was uttered that contradicted his reputation: “The life and health of its soldiers are the most important value of the Ukrainian army.” In Ukrainian and American media, however, it had been said since the summer of last year Again and again, Syrskyj is seen among soldiers as a commander who does not pay much attention to human losses in his operations.

He owes this reputation to his leadership in the months-long battle for Bakhmut, in which not only the Russian attackers but also the Ukrainians suffered heavy losses. At the time, Western military officials expressed doubts about the sense of the ultimately futile attempt to hold the small town at all costs.