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Updated Dec 5, 2023, 11:05am EST
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Divisions and rivalry over Ukraine war plague Zelenskyy

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint press conference with Moldova's President Maia Sandu and President of the European Council Charles Michel, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 21, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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Divisions are growing within Ukraine, as some politicians publicly break rank with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after nearly two years of war against Russia.

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Senior politicians are publicly expressing their frustrations with Zelenskyy’s leadership and voicing concerns of authoritarianism. At some point, we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the mood of a single man,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told German outlet Der Speigel. Politics in Ukraine have become something of a “one-man show,” Der Speigel notes, something that irks opposition politician, Oleksiy Honcharenko. “There are ... exactly two people in Ukraine who make all the decisions,” he said, referring to Zelenskyy and the head of his presidential office, Andriy Yermak.

Disappointment over Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive has sparked a growing rivalry between Zelenskyy and his top military commander, General Valerii Zaluzhny, Meduza reports, citing local media. Zaluzhny’s 98% approval rating has reportedly spooked Zelenskyy into seeing the commander as a potential threat to his presidency. The conflict stems from each man interfering in the other’s domain, Ukrainska Pravda reports, with Zelenskky bringing politics into the army’s senior command, and Zaluzhny becoming a “prominent phenomenon” in political circles.

The summer counteroffensive has also driven a wedge between Kyiv and Washington, The Washington Post reported. The U.S.’s deep involvement in the planning of the offensive led to disagreements with Ukrainian officials over timing and tactics. While Ukraine previously had the confidence and support of the West, the “slow-moving dismounted slog” has led to dwindling morale and political support from the West which is now distracted by the Middle East.

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