Valery Zaluzhny won’t be able to command Kiev’s forces anymore due to head trauma, a source told the agency.
General Valery Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, who had disappeared from the public eye in recent weeks, was seriously wounded some weeks ago in a Russian strike near the city of Kherson, a security source told RIA Novosti.
Zaluzhny suffered a head trauma and numerous shrapnel wounds in early May, in a missile attack on a Ukrainian command post not far from the village of Posad-Pokrovskoe, the agency reported on Wednesday.
The general had undergone a craniotomy at a military hospital in Kiev after the strike, the source claimed. The prognosis by the doctors is that the 49-year-old is going to live but won’t be able to execute his duties as commander anymore, he added.
Zaluzhny’s condition is further complicated by the fact that he has an underlying condition namely diabetes, the agency also reported.
Speculations about Zaluzhny’s whereabouts emerged after he refrained from participating in a high-profile NATO meeting on May 10.
The chairman of the bloc’s military committee, Rob Bauer, said that Kiev told Brussels that the Ukrainian commander couldn’t attend in person nor via a video-link due to a “complex operational situation” on the ground in the conflict with Moscow.
The general hasn’t been seen in public since then, even though footage that has emerged online in recent days that suggested he was fine, turned out to have been made before his disappearance.
On Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar claimed Zaluzhny was in good health and remained in charge of the armed forces.
“The commander-in-chief is in his place. He’s doing his job. We just talked,” she wrote on Telegram.
Malyar suggested that rumors of Zaluzhny’s possible injury or death were being spread by Russia in an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian forces during the battle for the strategic city of Artyomovsk, which the Ukrainians call Bakhmut. Moscow announced the “full capture” of Artyomovsk on Saturday, but Kiev has thus far been reluctant to acknowledge the loss of its key stronghold in Donbass.
Zaluzhny has been popular with the Western media and portrayed as a key figure in Ukraine’s resistance to Russia. Throughout the conflict, the so-called ‘Iron General’ has given lengthy interviews to outlets like The Economist and Time, which listed him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022.