Ukraine’s president replaces general commanding armed forces

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy replaced the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces Tuesday, his official website announced, with his spokesman citing conflicts between the military and the Defense Ministry.

The president signed a decree dismissing Col. Gen. Ruslan Khomchak as commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Ukraine, and appointed Valeriy Zaluzhny to the post.

Khomchak was appointed first deputy secretary of the country’s National Security and Defense Council.

Presidential spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said that “the president wants to see synergy between the Defense Ministry and the armed forces of Ukraine. We’re not seeing that synergy, unfortunately, but seeing conflicts instead.”

In a statement announcing the decision to dismiss Khomchak, Zelenaskyy’s website quoted the president as saying that “the sphere of defense must function steadily, in a coordinated manner, with a clear perspective and without misunderstandings between the leaders.”

Ukrainian media in recent months reported disputes between Khomchak and Defense Minister Andriy Taran, who allegedly don’t speak to each other.

Ukraine is seeking to accelerate the process of joining NATO as it faces Russia-backed separatist rebels who have taken control of a large section of the country’s east.

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