KYIV, Ukraine (AP) 鈥 Ukraine鈥檚 signaled Friday that he wants to build new momentum, saying his immediate goals are to improve troop rotation at the front lines and harness the power of new technology, at a time when Kyiv鈥檚 forces are largely on the defensive in the war with Russia.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who previously was the commander of Ukraine鈥檚 ground forces, spoke a day after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the battlefield campaign with the war . He replaced the broadly popular Gen. .

鈥淣ew tasks are on the agenda,鈥 Syrskyi said on his Telegram channel.

Syrskyi emphasized the need for 鈥渕aintaining a balance between the fulfillment of combat tasks and the restoration of units with the intensification of training,鈥 in an apparent reference to the need to rotate troops exhausted by nearly two years of fighting.

He also stressed the importance of 鈥渘ew technical solutions and the scaling of successful experience, such as the use of unmanned systems and modern electronic warfare means.鈥

Though he provided little detail, his remarks appeared to align with Zelenskyy鈥檚 stated aim of bringing 鈥渞enewal鈥 to the armed forces and adopting a fresh approach to the fight.

Later on Friday, Zelenskyy announced that he also replaced the chief of the military's General Staff, Lt. Gen. Serhiy Shaptala with Maj. Gen. Anatoliy Barhylyevych, whose experience and understanding of 鈥渢he tasks of this war and Ukrainian goals鈥 he noted. Shaptala was a close associate of Zaluzhnyi.

But the changes at the top won鈥檛 solve some of Ukraine鈥檚 biggest problems: a shortage of manpower that has helped , and the inadequate supply of Western weapons to take on Russia鈥檚 might.

Kyiv officials are 鈥渞ethinking鈥 their war strategy 鈥渨ith a new emphasis on improved technology and updated command and control," said James Nixey, an analyst at London鈥檚 Chatham House think tank.

One sign of that may be the claimed recent in the Black Sea by a new generation of Ukrainian naval drones.

鈥淚t鈥檚 not going to be easy" for Syrskyi, said Marina Miron, a researcher at the War Studies Department of King鈥檚 College London. 鈥淭here are a lot of problems" for Ukraine at the moment.

She cited a lack of ammunition, uncertainty about new weapons from Ukraine's Western allies, a manpower shortage, people's reluctance to be drafted, the tiredness of troops getting no respite from the front lines, and the question of how Zaluzhnyi's departure might affect morale.

Whereas Zaluzhnyi was a proponent at this stage of the war of active defense 鈥 securing defensive lines while also searching for Russia鈥檚 weak points and hitting rear areas with long-range strikes 鈥 Syrskyi 鈥渨ill try to push the Ukrainian forces. ... He will try to increase counterattacks possibly,鈥 Miron said in a telephone interview.

That would align with Zelenskyy's desire to take a more aggressive approach.

The Associated Press spoke to soldiers and commanders on the front lines, who expressed varied views about the changes at the top. Some said they would reserve judgement on Syrskyi until they witness changes on the ground, while others said he was a competent and capable general.

The shake-up caused some apprehension on the streets of the capital, Kyiv.

Alisa Riazantseva, a 35-year-old marketing specialist, said she had been 鈥済enerally satisfied鈥 with Zaluzhnyi. 鈥淲e hope that our government has not made a big mistake" by replacing him, she told the AP.

Oleksandr Azimov, 61, said there was 鈥渟ome discontent, some dissatisfaction鈥 about the changes at the top .

The consternation appeared to be rooted in previous criticism of Syrskyi鈥檚 strategy of holding on for nine months to the city of , which brought the war鈥檚 longest and bloodiest battle and cost Ukraine dearly in troop losses, but also served to sap Russia's forces.

Later Friday, dozens gathered in Kyiv鈥檚 Independence Square to protest Zaluzhnyi鈥檚 removal. They chanted slogans in support of the former army chief and called for the ousters of Syrskyi and Zelenskyy. A soldier tried to reason with the protesters, telling them the government has a plan, but they were having none of it.

With the fighting about to enter its third year, Kyiv is largely dependent on support from Western countries where signs of have emerged.

That has left Ukraine on the back foot while Russia has placed its economy on a war footing and is building up its weapon stockpiles.

Analysts detected no sign of a deeper malaise in Zelenskyy's move, which had been rumored for weeks.

鈥淐ommand changes are normal for a state fighting a war over several years,鈥 the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said late Thursday.

Asked about Zaluzhnyi鈥檚 exit and Syrskyi鈥檚 appointment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday downplayed the reshuffle, saying that they wouldn't affect the course of the Russian operation.

Russian President used an interview broadcast late Thursday with former Fox News to urge Washington to recognize Moscow鈥檚 interests and persuade Ukraine to sit down for talks.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor was in Washington for on Friday about new U.S. military aid for Ukraine. The vital support is being held up by disputes in Congress.

Syrskyi, who was born in the Soviet Union and attended Moscow Higher Military Command School as well as serving in the Soviet Artillery Corps, is described as an obsessive planner, and his comments Friday said his first job was to ensure 鈥渃lear and detailed planning.鈥

He also placed emphasis on ensuring the well-being of troops. 鈥淭he life and health of servicemen have always been and are the main value of the Ukrainian Army,鈥 he said 鈥 perhaps a reference to the Bakhmut criticism.

Syrskyi is viewed as the architect of the region in September 2022. That was the most significant Ukrainian victory of the war, allowing Kyiv to push the Kremlin鈥檚 forces out of the cities of Kupiansk and Izium.

Associated Press writer Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed reporting

Follow AP鈥檚 coverage of the war in Ukraine at

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.