On 8 February, Ukraine was stirred by the news that Volodymyr Zelenskyy had appointed Oleksandr Syrskyi as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It is known that Syrskyi previously headed the Land Forces of the Armed Forces and led several defensive and offensive operations.
The New York Times was one of the first to react to the appointment of the new Commander-in-Chief in Ukraine, noting that Syrskyi is a talented general who managed to successfully defend Kyiv and de-occupy Kharkiv region against a much larger Russian army thanks to rapid manoeuvres and small unit tactics. The Western edition of Reuters called the operations conducted by Syrsky absolutely brilliant and identified them as one of Ukraine's greatest victories during the full-scale war. The publication also emphasised that the morale of the troops during the war was above all else for Syrsky. His numerous visits to the frontline eloquently testify to this. What results did Syrskyi achieve in his previous position and what does the new Commander-in-Chief have in store for Ukraine?
Colonel-General Syrsky was born in 1965 in the Vladimir region of Russia and studied at the Moscow Higher Military Command School. Russian propagandists often use this fact to try to discredit Syrsky. Spiegel even called this detail of his biography "one of the bitter ironies of the current war".
However, all of Syrsky's achievements on the battlefield on the side of Ukraine and numerous successful military operations completely negate any accusations made by Russian propagandists. It was in Ukraine that Syrsky rose through the ranks, commanding the motorised infantry battalion of the 6th Division of the National Guard of Ukraine in Chuhuiv and later the 72nd Mechanised Brigade, where he was promoted to the rank of Major General. In 2013, Syrskyi became the first deputy chief of the Main Command Centre of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and it was Syrskyi who discussed changes to the Ukrainian army in line with NATO standards at NATO headquarters on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. That is why the new Commander-in-Chief knows better than anyone else how to bring our army up to the level of the Alliance's armies.
After the outbreak of the war in eastern Ukraine, Syrskyi headed the ATO headquarters and coordinated the withdrawal of Ukrainian defenders from Debaltseve. For the successful operation, Syrsky was awarded the Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, III class, and later promoted to lieutenant general.
In 2016, Syrskyi became the head of the Joint Operational Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and in 2017 he became the commander of the entire Anti-Terrorist Operation in eastern Ukraine. In 2019, Syrskyi was appointed Commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and in the same year he became Chief of the General Staff.
This rapid promotion of Syrskyi was fully justified and showed its results with the outbreak of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine in 2022. In the first difficult weeks of the Russian army's offensive on Kyiv, it was Syrskyi who commanded the defence of Kyiv, and it was his decisions that helped to contain the enemy's advance and prevent them from entering the capital.
Thanks to General Syrsky's decision, bridge crossings in the Kyiv region were quickly destroyed and a dam on the Irpin River was blown up, which flooded the Russian army's positions and stopped the enemy's advance. It was the successful defence of Kyiv that actually became the moment of a fundamental turning point in the war and prevented Russia from achieving its main goal. After the successful defence of Kyiv, Syrskyi was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
General Syrskyi also led the counter-offensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kharkiv region, which became one of the most successful in the entire full-scale war. Thanks to the general's thoughtful and balanced steps, almost the entire territory of Kharkiv region was liberated in a flash, and Balakliya, Kupiansk, and Izium were de-occupied.
From the very beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine in 2014, Syrskyi has stood courageously in defence of our country. Now, at an extremely important and at the same time the most difficult time for the Ukrainian army, it is imperative that a person who can think ahead and achieve brilliant results quickly and without significant losses takes over the command at the front. The operations in the Kharkiv sector and the brilliant defence of Kyiv have demonstrated that General Syrsky is the best person to handle this task. The entire Ukrainian people have high expectations of the new Commander-in-Chief.