By David M. Herszenhorn and Paul McLeary Politico
Meet Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who’s quietly leading the fight against Russia’s invaders.
Washington, Moscow and most of the world expected Russia to demolish Ukraine’s military within days.
But not Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who has orchestrated and led the fight that has left Russian forces bloody, beaten and in messy retreat.
If a single person can be credited with Ukraine’s surprising military successes so far — protecting Kyiv, the capital, and holding most other major cities amid an onslaught — it is Zaluzhnyy, a round-faced 48-year-old general who was born into a military family, and appointed as his country’s top uniformed commander by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in July 2021. Zaluzhnny and other Ukrainian commanders had been preparing for a full-on war with Russia since 2014.
Unlike, say, “Stormin’” Norman Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. troops in the first Persian Gulf War, or David Petraeus, who presided over the Iraq war and was nicknamed “King David,” Zaluzhnyy has largely avoided the spectacle of a celebrity commander — deferring that role to Zelenskyy, a former actor and comedian who has captured the public’s imagination.