Ukraine Daily Summary - Friday, February 9

Who is General Syrskyi, Ukraine's new chief commander? -- Ukraine, Denmark start negotiations on security guarantee agreement -- Senate advances Ukraine, Israel aid in procedural vote -- Short-lived rise of Boris Nadezhdin, Putin's anti-war opponent -- and more

Friday, February 9

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Men react during a night-time exchange of prisoners of war on Feb. 8, 2024 in Ukraine. About 100 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were returned from Russian captivity. (Kostiantyn Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images)

Zelensky dismisses Chief Commander Zaluzhnyi, appoints Syrskyi in his place. President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and appointed General Oleksandr Syrskyi in his place.

Umerov: ‘A decision was made to change the Armed Forces’ leadership.’ Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said a decision was made “on the need to change the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” Umerov thanked Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi for his service.

White House: ‘Zelensky decides who will be in military leadership.’ National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. will continue supporting Ukraine and its military no matter who’s in charge. “We’re not concerned about Ukrainian stability as a result of this,” Kirby said.

Ukraine returns 100 POWs from Russian captivity. One hundred Ukrainian prisoners of war have been returned home from Russian captivity, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 8. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Moscow also received 100 soldiers back.

Tucker Carlson releases interview with Putin. Controversial far-right commentator and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 8. Throughout the interview, Carlson seldomly interrupts Putin as he echoes Russian propaganda, sharing false narratives on a wide variety of topics, including Putin’s justification for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Air Force: Ukraine downs 10 drones overnight. Ukrainian air defense destroyed 10 of the 16 Shahed-type drones Russia launched from the Cape of Chauda in occupied Crimea and Russia’s Kursk region, the Air Force reported on Feb. 9.

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UK ambassador: Ukraine should not expect too much at Washington NATO summit. “I don’t expect a big leap forward on that mainly because of the likely situation on the ground,” U.K. Ambassador to NATO  David Quarrey told Politico, adding that London is “absolutely convinced that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO.”

Zelensky’s party top lawmaker reveals potential changes to mobilization bill.

David Arakhamia, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party in the Ukrainian parliament, called “absolutely unacceptable” the bill’s proposal to allow the blocking of bank accounts of citizens who evade military service, adding that he didn’t see any support for this proposal among lawmakers.

NYT: American officials confirm Patriot missile shot down Il-76 plane. The American-made Patriot missile system is likely responsible for the Russian Il-76 plane crash, American officials anonymously told The New York Times. The plane was also likely carrying at least some Ukrainian prisoners, officials reported.

First ship with humanitarian wheat shipment in 2024 leaves Ukraine. The Sky Gate bulk carrier is shipping 25,000 metric tons of wheat to Nigeria. The vessel is moving through the temporary Black Sea corridor.

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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky dismisses Zaluzhnyi, appoints Syrskyi to lead Armed Forces

“I appointed Colonel General Syrskyi as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to the nation. “He has successful defense experience - he conducted the Kyiv defense operation.”

Photo: Ground Forces/Telegram

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Who is General Syrskyi, Ukraine’s new chief commander?

Oleksandr Syrskyi’s appointment didn’t come as a total surprise. The general has been named as one of the leading candidates to replace Zaluzhnyi, particularly because he’s been known to be on good terms with the Presidential Office.

Photo: Anastasia Vlasova for The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Short-lived rise of Boris Nadezhdin, Putin’s ‘anti-war’ opponent

In December, the Kremlin allowed Boris Nadezhdin, the only anti-war candidate, to take part in the first stage of the registration process for the upcoming election.

Photo: Vera Savina / AFP via Getty Images

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Human cost of war

Russian attack on Avdiivka kills 72-year-old woman. Russian shelling in Avdiivka killed a 72-year-old woman, Governor Vadym Filashkin said on Feb. 8.

Experienced Ukrainian pilot killed in action. Vladislav Rykov, a highly experienced Ukrainian Air Force pilot, was killed in action on Feb. 7, the 299th Tactical Aviation Brigade reported on social media.

Russian attack on Kherson Oblast village injures man. A 58-year-old man suffered a blast injury and a wound to his head when Russia hit Romashkove near Kherson, the regional authorities said on Telegram.

International response

Senate advances Ukraine, Israel aid in procedural vote. The U.S. Senate voted to proceed with a stripped-down foreign aid package that includes funds for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without reforms to border policy, potentially paving the way for passage after Republicans blocked a bipartisan border security and foreign aid bill.

Ukraine, Denmark start negotiations on security guarantee agreement. Ukraine and Denmark have started negotiations on a bilateral security guarantee agreement, Ukraine’s President’s Office announced on Feb. 8.

US announces ban on import of Russian diamonds. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Feb. 8 imposed a ban on non-industrial diamonds mined in Russia, prohibiting their export regardless of whether they were processed in Russia or substantially transformed in a third country.

Finland extends border closure with Russia for 2 months. Finland fully closed its border with Russia in late November 2023 to prevent an influx of migrants from entering the country via Russia. In November alone, around 900 third-country asylum seekers entered Finland from Russia.

Bloomberg: New EU sanctions package expected to target Russian arms and technology. The new EU Russian sanctions package will likely target individuals and firms involved in the production of Russian weapons and key technologies used by Russian defense companies to create weapons, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 8.

In other news

Pro-Russian lawmaker Shufrych accused of financing Russia’s National Guard in Crimea. Pro-Russian lawmaker Nestor Shufrych, who is already suspected of treason, was charged with financing Russia’s National Guard in occupied Crimea on Feb. 8, the State Bureau of Investigation reported.

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