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Ukrainian commander says he learnt about sacking from news reports as Zelensky’s reshuffle continues

A Ukrainian commander leading his country’s northern forces against the Russian invasion says he only found out he had been fired by Volodymyr Zelensky from reading news reports.

General Serhiy Nayev lost his job as part of a major reshuffle in Ukraine’s military.

"I learnt about my dismissal from the post of commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which I’d held since 2020, from the mass media," General Nayev said on his official Telegram channel on Sunday.

“Those were difficult times. One of the most difficult periods in the history of Ukraine. And together with you, we walked this path with dignity,” the Lieutenant General said, as he expressed gratitude to Ukrainian soldiers for their service.

General Nayev was responsible for Ukraine’s military counterattack against Russian forces in the northern part of the war-hit nation. He said he was confident in Ukraine’s victory.

A presidential decree on Sunday confirmed General Nayev’s dismissal from the position of the chief commander of the joint forces, and announced the appointment of Yurii Sodol, previously the commander of the Ukrainian Navy’s marines, as his replacement, reported Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda.

In February last year, General Sodol had called on Russian forces to flee or surrender to Ukrainian forces.

“...otherwise it’s the fate of a fertiliser on someone else’s land; a black bag or disability awaits you, this is your ‘happy’ future. Unlike you, we know what we are fighting for, we are united, we are one,” he had said.

In a major reset in the military ranks just short of the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Zelensky has replaced military leaders including commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhny. After a series of disagreements, the president called for a “united approach across the whole front line and a new vision for the war, mobilisation and recruitment”.

His new chief is Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky, previously commander of the country’s ground forces, who is now tasked with revitalising Ukraine’s lagging defence against a resurgent Russia.

Ukraine has faced an increase in attacks by Vladimir Putin’s forces both on the ground and in the air in recent weeks, with a long-expected counteroffensive by Kyiv that started last summer having failed to gain back the level of territory from Russian forces that Ukraine would have hoped.

Much of the 600-mile frontline has moved little in recent months, but Russia is looking to make gains of its own in areas of eastern and northern Ukraine. This situation has been exacerbated by a failure by the US Congress to agree to fresh military aid for Ukraine after the previous support ran out in December.