West sizing up Ukrainian army chief as potential replacement for Zelensky — Russian intel

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky

© APA | Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky

# 11 December 2023 13:31 (UTC +04:00)

The Western countries backing Kiev are now considering Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, former Ukrainian Presidential Aide Alexey Arestovich, Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klichko and Ukrainian Presidential Office Head Andrey Yermak as potential candidates to replace Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in the country’s highest office, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergey Naryshkin said, APA reports citing TASS.

"The Foreign Intelligence Service is receiving reliable data that high-ranking officials from leading Western countries are increasingly more often discussing the need to replace incumbent Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky," the Russian intelligence chief noted in a statement published by the agency’s press service.

"Various potential successors to Zelensky in the office of the head of state are being considered. In particular, on the sidelines of the November meeting of EU foreign ministers held in Brussels, it was noted that one of Ukraine’s high-ranking military officials could serve as such [a successor], for example, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny or head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate [GUR] Kirill Budanov, as well as head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Andrey Yermak, former Ukrainian Presidential Aide Alexey Arestovich, [or] Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klichko," Naryshkin noted.

"The West thinks that the Ukrainian leader has gone too far in building up his own image as an uncompromising, hawkish advocate for waging war against Moscow until a victorious finale. If necessary, he would not be able to become a party to negotiations with Russia in the interests of temporarily freezing the conflict and rescuing the Russophobic Kiev regime," the Russian intelligence chief added. "According to assessments by the American intelligence community, given the unfolding situation in the Ukrainian theater of military operations, the need for this (replacing Zelensky - TASS) may emerge in the near future," he concluded.