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Former general: New Ukraine defense chief's task to deploy theorized battlefield innovations

Maj. Gen. (Retd) Neeme Väli.
Maj. Gen. (Retd) Neeme Väli. Source: ERR

The first task facing the new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, just appointed by president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and replacing Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, will be to implement in practice all the innovations, a former Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) general says.

These innovations would include those of a technological nature, which have so far been theorized but not put into practice.

Retired general and defense expert Neeme Väli (Isamaa, formerly of the Center Party) says deploying these innovations could help Ukraine take the initiative again on the front-line, as the Russian invasion nears its second anniversary.

Kyiv Post reports that President Zelenskyy posted on social media Thursday that he had: "Met with General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. I thanked him for his two years of defending Ukraine."

"We discussed the renewal that the Armed Forces of Ukraine require. We also discussed who could be part of the renewed leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The time for such a renewal is now," the Ukrainian president went on.

Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Thursday, Maj. Gen. Väli said that innovation is certainly required to break the current stalemate on the front line.

These innovations had been theorized so far, he added.

"I think the first task facing Syrskyi will be how to implement everything written down in theory, and at all levels," Väli said.

The new Ukrainian chief of staff is a popular figure due in part to his frequent appearances before troops and close to the front line, Väli added, though the change is being met with more caution among Ukraine's allies.

"This certainly causes concern, because the war is at full pace, so any change of leadership can usually mean that there will be a pause in leadership, leading to confusion and chaos," he went on.

"I believe that the Ukrainians are experienced enough, however, because the war has been going on so long. Plus Syrskyi has been quite close to Zelenskyy, so there should be no fears there," the retired general added.

In any case, Zaluzhnyi is not completely out of the frame as he may well next get the role of adviser to the army, and would prove very helpful here, Väli noted.

In an interview given to an Italian media outlet last Sunday, Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted publicly for the first time that he was seeking to replace Zaluzhnyi, again talking about a "reset," and the president had reportedly already asked Gen. Zaluzhnyi to step down the previous week.

Zaluzhnyi reportedly initially declined to do so; speculation has also arisen that the general had been approaching the president's popularity levels so far as the Ukrainian people go.

New commander Syrskyi, 58, is an ethnic Russian who moved to Ukraine in the 1980s, whereas Zaluzhnyi is from the Western part of Ukraine.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming.

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Astrid Kannel.

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