President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Valery Zaluzhny, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), as ambassador to Great Britain by decree.

The document reads, “To appoint Valery Fedorovych Zaluzhny as extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

This decree follows another in which Zelensky released Zaluzhny from military service while allowing him to retain the right to wear a military uniform.

Valery Zaluzhny assumed the role of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on July 27, 2021. During his tenure, he successfully defended against initial Russian attacks and reclaimed some occupied territories following Russia’s full-scale invasion.

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Over the past few months, rumors about conflicts between Zaluzhny and Zelensky, as well as the president’s intention to dismiss the AFU commander-in-chief, circulated in the Ukrainian media.

Zaluzhny resigned from his position on February 8, 2024. Following his resignation, Zelensky expressed gratitude for Zaluzhny’s defense of Ukraine during his two-year tenure. They discussed the need for renewal within the AFU leadership and deliberated on potential candidates to join the reinvigorated Armed Forces.

In response to his dismissal, Zaluzhny stated, “The tasks of 2022 are different from those of 2024. Therefore, everyone must adapt to the new realities to win together.”

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The visit comes as Ukraine battles a Russian ground offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region which began on May 10 in Moscow's biggest territorial advance in 18 months.

Ukraine’s defense minister, Rustem Umerov, commented on Zaluzhny’s removal, stating, “A decision was made to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Zaluzhny was succeeded by Oleksandr Syrsky, who led Ukrainian forces defending Kyiv and Kharkiv.

However, Zelensky invited Zaluzhny to remain part of the team and awarded him the title of Hero of Ukraine along with the Golden Star order. The title of Hero of Ukraine is the highest honor bestowed on Ukrainian citizens for remarkable heroic deeds or outstanding labor achievements.

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Subsequently, Zelensky approved Zaluzhny’s nomination for the post of ambassador to Britain. According to the president, Zaluzhny himself expressed a preference for this career path.

In March, Andrii Sybiga, the deputy head of the Office of the President, revealed that the process of appointing Zaluzhny as Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom had commenced.

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