Valerii Zaluzhnyi

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Valerii Zaluzhnyi
Валерій Залужний
Lieutenant General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.jpg
Official portrait, 2021
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United Kingdom
Assumed office
7 March 2024
Zaluzhnyi with Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi (left) during the Battle of Kyiv, March 2022 Defenceofkyiv.jpg
Zaluzhnyi with Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi (left) during the Battle of Kyiv, March 2022

Valerii Fedorovych Zaluzhnyi (Ukrainian : Вале́рій Фе́дорович Залу́жний; [lower-alpha 1] [3] born 8 July 1973) is a Ukrainian four-star general who is currently serving as Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom. He served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from 27 July 2021 until 8 February 2024. [4] [5] He was also concurrently a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.


Zaluzhnyi was previously the Commander of the North Operational Command (2019–2021), Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine — First Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces (2018), Chief of Staff – First Deputy Commander of the West Operational Command (2017), and Commander of the 51st Guards Mechanized Brigade (2009–2012).

Zaluzhnyi was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022. [6] He has received praise for his skill at "adapting to a fast-changing battlefield" through effective delegation and information gathering during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [7] He was dismissed from his position as Commander-in-Chief on 8 February 2024 amid increasing tension between him and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. [8]

Zaluzhnyi was appointed the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom in March 2024. [9] [10]

Early life and education

Zaluzhnyi was born on 8 July 1973 in Novohrad-Volynskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (now Zviahel, Ukraine). In 1989, Zaluzhnyi graduated from the city school No. 9 and entered the Zviahel Machine-Building Technical School, from which he graduated in 1991 with honors. He later entered the general military faculty of the Odesa Institute of Land Forces. In 1997, he graduated with honors from the institute, after which he passed all stages of military service: platoon commander, training platoon commander, combat platoon commander, training company commander, cadet company commander, and battalion commander. [11] [12]

Military career

In 2005, he entered the National Academy of Defense of Ukraine. In 2007, he graduated with a gold medal and was appointed Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the 24th Mechanized Brigade in Yavoriv, Lviv Oblast. He successfully served in this position for two and a half years. [13] In October 2009, he was appointed commander of the 51st Mechanized Brigade, which he led until 2012. [14]

In 2014, Zaluzhnyi graduated from the Ivan Cherniakhovskyi National Defense University of Ukraine. [15] In 2017, he was appointed Chief of Staff – First Deputy Commander of the Operational Command West. [16] The next year, in 2018, Zaluzhnyi was appointed Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – First Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces. [17]

According to an interview with The Washington Post , in 2019, Zaluzhnyi was detained at the airport in Brussels, where he had arrived to participate in the NATO summit. The reason was that he was put on the international wanted list at the request of the Russian Federation. During his detention by Interpol, he managed to call Ukraine's ambassador to NATO, who subsequently resolved the situation. [18] [19]

In December 2019, he was appointed Commander of the Operational Command North. [20] In December 2020 he graduated from the National University Ostroh Academy with a master's degree in International Relations. [21] [22]

2021–2024: Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

On 27 July 2021, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Zaluzhnyi as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, [23] replacing General Ruslan Khomchak in this position. [24] [25] The following day he was also appointed as a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. [26]

Zaluzhnyi is widely regarded as an open-minded officer. [27] Representing a new generation of Ukrainian officers, Zaluzhnyi has radically departed from established Soviet military practices. [23] [28] One of his first steps in office was to allow the military at the front to open fire in response to the enemy without the consent of the upper leadership and eliminate the need for the military to fill out unnecessary documents. [29]

Regarding his priorities as Commander-in-Chief, Zaluzhnyi said in 2021:

The overall course of reforming Ukraine's Armed Forces in line with NATO principles and standards remains irreversible. And the key here is the principles. Changes must take place primarily in the worldview and attitude toward people. I would like you to turn your face to the people, to your subordinates. My attitude towards people has not changed throughout my service. [30]

On 5 March 2022, 10 days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy promoted him to the rank of General, [31] the highest possible rank in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. International experts and analysts have given Zaluzhnyi high marks for the effectiveness of his command at the front against the Russian military. [32]

Zaluzhny has been among the most popular people in Ukraine in 2022, [33] in January 2023, when he was liked by 87% of Ukrainian respondents and disliked by 4%, [34] and in December 2023 when 88% of Ukrainians expressed trust in Zaluzhnyi. [35]

In January 2023, he received a US$1 million inheritance from Gregory Stepanets, a Ukrainian-American. Zaluzhny donated it all to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and humanitarian nonprofits in Ukraine. [36] [37] [38] [39]

In June 2023, Zaluzhnyi appealed to Western allies to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets and MGM-140 ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles, saying Ukraine's counter-offensive was being slowed by a lack of modern fighter jets and artillery ammunition. [40] He told The Economist in an interview published on 1 November 2023, "Just like in the First World War we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate. There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough." Zaluzhnyi said he underestimated the Russian leadership's willingness to sacrifice its soldiers, saying that "Russia has lost at least 150,000 dead. In any other country such casualties would have stopped the war." [41] Zaluzhnyi's statement that the war had reached a "stalemate" was publicly criticized by President Zelenskyy. [8]

In December 2023, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense led by Rustem Umerov proposed to mobilize 450,000 to 500,000 additional Ukrainian citizens, including Ukrainian men living abroad, [42] [43] into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. [44] On 26 December, Zaluzhnyi said that the military command had not formally requested the mobilization, but the Ukrainian General Staff believed that 450-500,000 citizens should be mobilized to create new military units, while "forecasting the losses we may incur next year." [45]

On 2 February 2024, Zaluzhnyi wrote that "the weakness of the international sanctions' regime means Russia … is still able to deploy its military-industrial complex in pursuit of a war of attrition against us. We must acknowledge the significant advantage enjoyed by [Russia] in mobilizing human resources and how that compares with the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures." [46] He concluded that "the number one priority here is mastery of an entire arsenal of (relatively) cheap, modern and highly effective, unmanned vehicles and other technological means. ...this means nothing less than the wholesale redesign of battlefield operations – and the abandoning of outdated, stereotypical thinking." [47]

On 8 February 2024, Zaluzhnyi was replaced as Commander-in-Chief by Oleksandr Syrskyi, previously the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. [48] [49] Following his replacement, he was decorated with the award Hero of Ukraine by Zelenskyy. [50] The dismissal came amid increasing tension between him and Zelenskyy. [8]

Post military career

On 7 March 2024, President Zelenskyy named General Valerii Zaluzhnyi as the new Ukrainian ambassador to the UK. [51]

Military ranks




In February 2023, the village of Vatutine, Kharkiv Oblast was set to be renamed Zaluzhne in honor of Zaluzhnyi. [63]

Streets in Pokrov, [64] Stara Syniava, [65] Konotop, [66] and Malyn [67] are named after him.


Zaluzhnyi is married with two daughters. His older daughter serves in the military, his younger is studying to become a physician. [68]


    1. Sometimes transliterated as Valery or Valeriy Zaluzhny in English.

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    External videos
    Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Головнокомандувач ЗСУ Залужний: Хотів би проїхатися на танку по Арбату. Рандеву з Яніною Соколовою on YouTube, 5 канал, 4 September 2021.
    Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Валерій Залужний на Всеукраїнському форумі «Україна 30. Захисники» on YouTube, Конгрес місцевих та регіональних влад, 3 November 2021.
    Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg «Війна змінила мою долю»: історія головнокомандувача ЗСУ Валерія Залужного. Таємниці війни on YouTube, 5 канал, 2 December 2021.
    Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Year. Off-screen. General. Special project of Dmytro Komarov. Part three [Eng + Ru subtitles] on YouTube, Світ навиворіт, 12 May 2023.