Military expert Serhiy Hrabskyi explained in an interview with NV Radio on Feb. 9 whether the situation at the front will drastically change with the appointment of Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
NV: How can we assess this appointment and how it can change the situation at the front?
Hrabskyi: It’s hard to say now how it will change the situation at the front. In general, I’ve never allowed myself to discuss the issue of personnel appointments because this is the responsibility of the president [Volodymyr Zelenskyy].
The only thing I can say is that the war won’t stop from this. The war will continue, and the task of our entire state is to resist this aggression in the future.
Should we expect drastic changes at the front? I wouldn’t expect this as we must understand that General Syrskyi has been at the front for two years and has been fighting the same way. He was part of what was happening during that time. Accordingly, we cannot expect any drastic changes. This won’t happen since war has its own rules, its own norms, and the sequence of actions.
Therefore, we’ll have the same battles as we need to accumulate resources and hold the line. These are the primary tasks that General Syrskyi will have to face.
NV: How do the troops view Syrskyi?
Hrabskyi: There is such a misconception that the army represents a political force, that personal opinions of service members can be considered some kind of position pf the entire military. The army is a state tool to protect our country. That’s why the opinions of individual soldiers cannot be taken into account.
Of course, like any person, both [the former Commander-in-Chief] General [Valerii] Zaluzhnyi and General Syrskyi have positive and negative sides.
The army will continue to fight. The only thing I can say is what I heard from the soldiers: thank God that they decided on this, on what and how it will be. Because the uncertainty, which cost us quite a lot and lasted for a month, when there were talks about the probable dismissal [of Zaluzhnyi], affected the fighting spirit and morale.
NV: The president has published a list of what he expects from the Armed Forces after Syrskyi’s appointment. He said that he wants to see a realistic and detailed plan for 2024, considering the real situation on the battlefield and our prospects. So did we not have such a plan before, or the president simply didn’t like it?
Hrabskyi: I have the same question. Because, as you can see, we’re already in February 2024, while plans for combat training and other plans were drawn up even before the end of last year. That is, such a plan exists, and that’s why I share your bewilderment.
Sometime in November 2023, there was talk of switching to strategic defense. Strategic defense also involves certain stages of planning and implementation of strategic defense measures. That is, they had such a plan.
Perhaps the president had in mind some proposals for introducing clarifications to that plan. We need to give the person [General Syrskyi] time to get to the bottom of things, perhaps to clarify certain tasks for the troops, and then we’ll look at the result. It’s impossible that we had no plan at all.
NV: When will we see some changes at the front? Will we feel this change in leadership?
Hrabskyi: I’m afraid we won’t experience a quick leadership change because the specifics of these combat tasks that we perform (defense tasks), they’re quite simple. They’re determined by the objectives that have been set, namely, to hold on and prevent the enemy from breaking through. That is, we could only see a difference during some large-scale offensive operations. For now, it’s necessary to show stability, endurance, and steadfastness of our positions in defense.
Defense is a specific type of combat with [no] special creativity. It all depends on how committed the army and the state are to hold their ground. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend waiting for some revolutionary changes. We must focus on what we already have.
The military, if we can compare it to a ship, is quite a big vessel and making sudden movements can be very dangerous. If we even see any changes, it will be in the long run, after a rather long period.
NV: How abrupt was the dismissal of Zaluzhnyi and the appointment of Syrskyi?
Hrabskyi: Staying with our naval metaphor: was General Syrskyi part of the team that performed combat tasks, was he on that ship, on that captain’s bridge? Yes, he was one of the team members and he took over the helm. He knows what he needs to do and how. Therefore, to expect some sharp movement… The war cannot be stopped, we cannot suddenly go on the offensive, or, for example, [to expect that] mass purges will begin the army.
This won’t happen and we won’t see it in any case. The army only performs combat tasks based on the resources provided to it by the state. Therefore, it would be wrong to hope that General Syrskyi could drastically change the situation.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine
David Turner is a globe-trotting journalist who brings a global perspective to our readers. With a commitment to shedding light on international events, he explores complex geopolitical issues, offering a nuanced view of the world’s most pressing challenges.