During the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2024, I met some old friends in Beijing, all of us are, or were, intelligence analysts. We got together for a meal, and talked a lot about international political events, including the event of Zaluzhnyi’s removal.

Chinese military analysts arrived at a series of judgments that Zelensky would remove Zaluzhnyi from his post last June. The logic behind the incident is not complicated; it was a crucial counterattack by Zelensky against Western political interference.

I. Political symbols and military proxies At the level of the Western public media, the most critical targeting figures for understanding “Why should I spend my money in Ukraine?” is Zelensky. Western public opinion portrays him as a pioneer in the “fight against Russian hegemony”, “gatekeeper of Europe” and “defender of the free world”. For many Americans, who don’t even know where Ukraine is, Zelensky has become a special “political symbol”, and if you want to destroy the evil Russians, you have to support him and unite around this symbol.

But the CIA, US DoD, and other military agencies deeply involved in the war will not trust the corrupt Ukrainian bureaucracy and military management system. So they need to put their tentacles inside the Ukrainian military system and cultivate agents they trust.

Zaluzhny is a Ukrainian military general who meets the criteria of “American assistance” and “American military values” Due to his long-term “front-line cooperation” with the US intelligence and military units, he was well received by the US government agencies (which does not mean that there were no decision-making conflicts between him and the US military advisors). His familiarity with the former Soviet military structure and his partially open-minded acceptance of the Western-style military transformation in the United States actually contributed to a series of successful “military counter-offensives” in 2022 (which would not have been possible without the Western military surveillance and intelligence system), which in turn deepened his “influence” among Ukrainian military and civilian population.

At this point, a contradiction arose. Although Zelensky is an apparent “agent” and Symbol, his special political position dictates that he must defend his own political interests. This interest is in fact contradictory and conflicting with the U.S. interest, for example, “the division of aid programs”, “the arbitrary rejection of wartime elections” and “the difference in decision-making on military policies”.

These contradictions increasingly favored Zaluzhny, and the U.S. sensed that military personnel who received direct U.S. aid were better to deal with than slippery-skinned politicians. Zelensky also saw the tendencies of the American supporters, as well as Zaluzhny’s slowly developing “center of power and public attention” in the country, and Zelensky felt a sense of crisis – from Zaluzhny’s political ambitions. Therefore, Zelensky had to get rid of him!

II. Future course of the incident This event highlighted the existence of “divisions” and “contradictions” in the Kiev hierarchy, which obviously did not “positively contribute” to the war, but, on the contrary, it was the poor military performance and the pessimistic future that exacerbated this situation.

What is interesting here, and worth watching, is the reaction of the United States. The United States did not support the decision, but neither did it oppose it. The U.S. reaction reflects the fact that the U.S. “no longer expects” Ukraine to be victorious and that the war will soon be over.

Think about what it means when a general who is considered competent and trusted by the army is replaced at a critical moment. It means that: (a) the US no longer believes that Ukraine can achieve a “meaningful and significant strategic breakthrough” and prioritizes the geopolitical stalemate, stabilizing the standoff, and stabilizing the faltering Ukrainian regime, and that possible negotiations are imminent; and (b)The U.S. must stockpile policies for the “dismal” expectations (Trump) of election year.

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