Ukraine's president says dismissed military commander Zaluzhnyi will be new ambassador to the UK

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KYIV (AP) — Ukraine's former military chief has been appointed the country's new ambassador to the United Kingdom, a month after he was sacked as head of the armed forces by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy announced that he has approved the appointment of Valerii Zaluzhnyi to one of Ukraine's most important diplomatic positions. Britain is a key supporter of Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Zelenskyy fired Zaluzhnyi as military commander-in-chief in February, part of a shake-up aimed at reigniting momentum in the deadlocked war. The president said at the time that Ukraine must be led by individuals who are “convinced of victory” against Russia.

Zaluzhnyi is widely respected among Ukrainian troops and considered a national hero. He is credited with stalling Russia’s full-scale invasion in the early days of the war and expertly pushing back Moscow’s troops.

Reported tensions between Zaluzhnyi and the president grew after Ukraine's much-touted 2023 counteroffensive failed to make major territorial gains.

Zelenskyy said Thursday on Telegram that Zaluzhnyi "told me this is the direction he would like to take — diplomacy.”

"Our alliance with Britain should only strengthen,” Zelenskyy added.

The position of ambassador to Britain has been vacant since the previous envoy, Vadym Prystaiko, was removed by Zelenskyy in July. No reason was given, but Prystaiko had publicly criticized the president.

Britain has been a strong ally of Ukraine in the war, now in its third year, and has given Kyiv more than 7 billion pounds ($9 billion) in military support since Russia's February 2022 invasion. The British government said Thursday it would provide 10,000 attack drones to Ukraine.

The announcement by Defense Secretary Grant Shapps during a visit to Kyiv includes an investment of 125 million pounds ($160 million) on top of 200 million pounds ($256 million) previously committed for drones.

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