Who is Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s new army chief

Feb 9, 2024

New Delhi: Ukraine has appointed oleksandr sirsky As the new head of its armed forces, an important step for the nation Defense from Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his appointment on Thursday, replacing the 58-year-old valery zaluzny Amid speculation of significant changes in military leadership during the war.
Sirsky has been a key figure in Ukraine's military strategy, credited with defending Kiev against Russian forces and thwarting the Kremlin's initial invasion plans. Following Russia's failed attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital, Zelensky awarded Syrsky the Hero of Ukraine award, the country's highest honor, for his “personal courage” and significant contributions to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In a notable operation under his command, the autumn 2022 counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region scored a significant victory for Ukraine, forcing Russian forces to retreat and recapture large areas.
Despite these achievements, Sierski does not enjoy the national icon status of his predecessor, Zaluzny. A December 2023 poll showed that 48% of Ukrainians were not familiar with him. Known for his low-profile approach and preference for official communications, Syrsky's leadership style stands in contrast to more charismatic figures in Ukraine's military and political landscape.
However, his commitment to being on the front lines is clear, with army spokesman Ilya Yevlashy noting Sirsky's regular visits to the battlefield. Critics have described him as a leader who prioritizes objectives over costs, with some questioning his sensitivity to troop losses.
Sirsky has an extensive military career, having been born in Soviet Russia in 1965 and later serving in Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union. His experience includes leading the 72nd Mechanized Brigade and involvement in Ukraine-NATO cooperation. As a commander in the eastern Donbass region, he played a key role in the conflict against Russian-backed forces since 2014.
Five facts about Oleksandr Sirsky:
Early years: Born in 1965 in the Vladimir region of Russia, Sirsky has lived in Ukraine since the 1980s. His military education was completed in Moscow, reflecting a shared background with some of his Russian counterparts.
Snow Leopard: Syrsky, known by the call sign “Snow Leopard”, has led Ukraine's ground forces since 2019 and has been a central figure in the conflict with Russia, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Major Victories: His leadership played a key role in defending Kiev and leading the counteroffensive near Kharkiv, marking significant successes in the ongoing conflict.
Bakhmut Defense: Sirsky led the defense of Bakhmut, a battle which, despite heavy casualties, was considered detrimental to Russia's broader war effort.
Army morale: Prioritizing the morale of his troops, Sirsky is known for his dedication to visiting troops at the front and maintaining a rigorous personal schedule, including regular gym visits. He has two sons.
As Ukraine continues to grapple with the complexities of war, Syrsky's strategic skills and leadership will be critical in the country's ongoing defense efforts against Russian aggression.
(with inputs from agencies)

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