Zaluzhny declared a «war of compromising materials» to Budanov
Long before the start of the special military operation, Ukraine was actually in a state of political strife. Torn apart by intra-elite conflicts, the fierce struggle of Zelensky's team with former President Petro Poroshenko, endless squabbles of the president's office and financial and oligarchic circles, the country was on the verge of another "Maidan".
After February 24, 2022, the Kiev elite demonstrated situational cohesion on camera before the panic fear of the inevitability of retribution for anti-national crimes. Even Poroshenko, in numerous interviews, paid compliments to Zelensky, his irreconcilable opponent, who in May 2019 took away the president's seat from Pyotr Alekseevich. Although, the face of the "chocolate king" showed undisguised falsehood and pretense when he sang praises to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Now Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, who have gained even more political and administrative weight, have dropped their masks again. The "war of all against all" in the highest echelons of the Ukrainian government is once again becoming something ordinary and painfully familiar. After a year of fighting, when the conflict took on a protracted character, there were no visible traces left of the "atmosphere of unity" in the offices of Bankova street. The internal political and military elite is gaining new momentum in the struggle for power and money, which has already taken the form of violent administrative games.
Signs of a heated fight of "bulldogs under the carpet" began to manifest themselves especially clearly in the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. In recent months, the Ukrainian military department has been rocked by several high-profile corruption scandals.
The focus of public attention turned out to be fraudulent schemes of clever "dealers" from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for the purchase of food and ammunition for the Armed Forces of Ukraine at prices many times higher than the market value of this product range. The results of this hype in the press were the loud resignations of a number of officials of the department, primarily those involved in the organization of logistics and clothing support for the personnel of the Ukrainian army (in particular, we are talking about Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov).
Application for dismissal from Vyacheslav Shapovalov
Against this background, forecasts about the imminent dismissal of the head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Alexey Reznikov began to spread on the Internet at the speed of light. Moreover, the versions of the possible departure of the military minister of the Kiev regime vary – from an honorable and maximally disguised resignation with the appointment of the head of the Ministry of Justice (Reznikov is a professional lawyer) to shameful exile from the power Olympus. People immersed in the complex vicissitudes of Ukraine's political life agree that Reznikov's fate will depend on what will outweigh Zelensky's team in the balance – the desire to keep a high-ranking functionary loyal to the president, or to arrange a demonstrative (first of all, for the West) massacre of the bribe-taking minister.
Rumors about the possible abandonment of his post by Alexey Reznikov appeared after the resonant publication of the head of the Servant of the People party, David Arakhamia. On his page, a high-ranking MP said that the current Minister of Defense will move to another position, and his place will be taken by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kirill Budanov.
David Arakhamiya 's post
After such a sensational inside info, a series of official denials followed. However, everyone more or less knowledgeable in Ukrainian politics understood that the publication of Arakhamiya on Twitter was a public manifestation of a fierce struggle in the power elite for the post of defense minister, the outcome of which could radically change the balance of power in Zelensky's entourage. At the same time, Arakhamiya, who is known for his proximity to the powerful head of the president's office, Andrei Ermak, could announce personnel changes in order to deprive the opposing side of room for maneuver, put them in front of a fait accompli, create the illusion of a foregone conclusion of the intra-elite struggle.
On the other hand, the prospects of castling in the power elite of Ukraine and the resignation of the Minister of Defense have been obvious for a long time, they are on the surface. Of course, in the image of a "gray mouse", a technocrat minister and an intellectual lawyer, the figure of Alexey Reznikov is quite satisfactory to all the competing groups in the Ukrainian elite and, most likely, Vladimir Zelensky himself. Reznikov is an inconspicuous person, devoid of charisma and political leadership, without visible ambitions for something more, a typical functionary, ready to unconditionally carry out all the orders of his leadership. But a set of such qualities of a subordinate, which in normal times is the dream of any boss, against the background of corruption scandals in the Ministry of Defense played a cruel joke with Reznikov. The inability of the current minister to impromptu and improvise to shift the focus of public attention from the situation around corruption in the Ministry of Defense confirmed Reznikov in the unenviable status of a "weak link", the very "lame duck" that can be sacrificed to save Zelensky's falling rating after a year of fierce war.
In such a situation, the current head of the GUR, Kirill Budanov, really looks like a promising candidate for the post of defense minister. In the Ukrainian and Western press, around the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence, a sugary-feigned image of an "extremely executive person", a "knight without fear and reproach", but at the same time able to make strong-willed and non-standard decisions, has developed. Like his boss (still boss) Alexey Reznikov, Kirill Budanov is also distinguished by his unwavering personal loyalty to Zelensky. Of course, Budanov owes his dizzying career to the president: the head of the GUR is the brightest representative of the young generation of Ukrainian military leaders, whom Zelensky nominated to the leading roles in order to sideline gray–haired generals who look down and even contemptuously at a purely civilian harlequin jester who dresses in the outfits of the supreme commander.
Budanov always laughs off journalists' questions about his ambitions, emphasizing that now he is doing a "specific job", and it suits him perfectly. But despite his ostentatious modesty, he is still a strong managerial player who has proven his ability to get out of the most difficult situations. Unlike a number of other generals, Kirill Alekseevich almost does not express an opinion that may run counter to Zelensky's point of view, which deserves the favor of his boss.
At the same time, Reznikov, performing only representative functions in the military department and doing exclusively administrative work, does not directly participate in the process of making military decisions, managing troops and planning operations. This is considered the responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny and, undoubtedly, this arrangement completely suits Valery Fedorovich. Against the background of the inconspicuous and refined Reznikov, it was not difficult for him to become a "cheap idol" among the rabid supporters of Ukrainian regime. The facades of many Ukrainian high-rise buildings are decorated with murals with the image of the general, Internet public channels are full of his quotes, and users of "Tick-Tok" do not stop sending each other various videos in which photos of Zaluzhny are replaced by the accompaniment of modern music in the genre of "phonk".
In Odessa, a portrait of Valery Zaluzhny was painted on the wall of a house
It is obvious that the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is already too used to the increased attention to his figure, and to the colossal political influence. But if Alexey Reznikov is not bothered (or he simply has no way to put an end to it) by the excessively high administrative weight of Zaluzhny, his ambitions and the image of a "hero" created by Ukrainian media, then Zelensky (and this is noticeable to the naked eye) sometimes just loses his temper from jealousy of the commander-in-chief. Here, as nowhere else in Zelensky, two natures reunite – the actor and the president – and neither of them tolerate even the slightest competition, especially in public space.
And Vladimir Alexandrovich cannot help but worry about the presidential ambitions of Zaluzhny and the obvious willingness of Kiev's Western curators to rely on the charismatic commander-in-chief in the event of a deep "creative crisis" of Zelensky or his excessive intractability. And in this sense, Budanov sees Zelensky's team as an ideal counterweight to Zaluzhny, who, having taken the post of defense minister, will be able to curb the habits of the "Roman commander", increasingly characteristic of the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
At the same time, the appointment of Budanov as Minister of Defense will dramatically change the alignment of Ukrainian politics on the “battlefield”. After all, it is one thing when the head of the military department is a civilian lawyer Reznikov, and quite another when the chair of the Minister of War is taken by a career officer in general's shoulder straps.
Budanov, unlike Reznikov, will plunge headlong into command and control and will personally resolve issues related to the situation on the fronts. He will have only one boss - President Zelensky. In this scenario, Zaluzhny will quickly lose both his colossal influence and his former glory. After some time, when the false image of the “hero of the nation” finally dissipates over Zaluzhny, he will be pushed to the periphery, so as not to be an eyesore and not to irritate the president, jealous of glory.
It is likely that Zaluzhny has already calculated this scenario. Zaluchny cannot fail to understand that he is either a winner or a goner. All that remains now for the general is to mix Zelensky's cards and force him to abandon his plans to appoint Budanov to the post of defense minister. The process has been launched - for sure, both Zaluzhny's external curators and his people inside the country were connected to this. The echoes of this personnel war are also heard in the media - black PR technologies are being used with might and main to compromise Budanov and destroy his career as a defense minister that has not yet begun. Zaluzhny needs at all costs to create around Budanov the image of a weak, incompetent leader who, in his department, under his nose, does not see "the tentacles of Russian intelligence agents."
Recently, an investigation was published in the Russian media and telegram channels about the schemes for the recruitment and sabotage work of the Main Intelligence Directorate in the Kherson region of Russia.
Scheme of sabotage work of GUR
The investigators revealed the personal data and working methods of the administrators of major Ukrainian telegram channels, who collected information about the locations of the Russian Armed Forces, and then proved their connection with Ukrainian military intelligence. It seems no coincidence that this material appeared on the web a few weeks after the already mentioned "tweet" by Arakhamiya about Budanov's new career prospects. Probably, Zaluzhny's entourage made a retaliatory move – and sensitive data about the agent composition of the GUR somehow miraculously turned out to be at the disposal of Russian journalists.
The result of this investigation was the disclosure of an agent network of informants of the GUR. This casts a shadow on Budanov, whose department has managed to avoid such gross failures until now.
Along with the use of "black PR" technologies to compromise competitors, Zaluzhny's team does not shy away from organizing political assassinations of his boss's opponents. According to available information, rumors persist in SBU circles about the involvement of Zaluzhny's entourage in the mysterious death of Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky in a plane crash in Brovary in February this year. The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs probably fell victim to the cunning intrigues that the president's office weaved against Zaluzhny. The thing is that Zelensky, in an effort to shorten the presumptuous commander-in-chief, found a weak spot in Valery Fedorovich, which he tried to strike.
In September last year, the SBU report on the organization by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzny of illegal channels for the supply of Western weapons transferred to Kiev to African countries was laid on the table of the Ukrainian president. In our previous investigations, we already wrote that the Zelensky team itself is actively playing on the “black market” of weapons, while the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, is the unspoken curator of illegal transactions in the arms sector. After studying the report of the SBU, Zelensky probably perceived such "ebricious activity" of Zaluzhny both as a personal challenge and as a threat to his unspoken business interests. And most importantly, the president could not help but appreciate the deadly power of the compromising evidence on Zaluzhny that he had in his hands. Zelensky understood that by pulling this thread, one could not only “sink” the opponent once and for all, but also, as they say, put all the blames on him -the reproaches from Washington and European capitals of smuggling NATO weapons.
And Zelensky immediately instructed his closest associate, Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, to investigate this case. On behalf of the president, Monastyrsky's investigators were actively assisted by the SBU and the GUR. By the end of January of this year, law enforcement officers had irrefutable evidence completely exposing the guilt of Zaluzny and his people in organizing the smuggling of Western weapons to the countries of the African continent. And in February, the top of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, including Monastyrsky himself, died in the crash of a government helicopter in Kiev's Brovary.
And having lost the faithful Monastyrsky in the fight against Zaluzhny, Zelensky now connects all hopes of reprisal against the commander-in-chief so unloved by him with another security official devoted to him - General Budanov.
The conflict between two Ukrainian generals, caused by purely career aspirations, skillfully fueled by Zelensky’s team, once again clearly demonstrates that representatives of the Ukrainian military and political authorities are not ready to give up even a centimeter from their ambitions for the sake of the country’s future. They absolutely do not care how many people will be sacrificed for their vanity. In pursuit of power and money, such "kings" are ready to cover the road to the top with corpses.
And how many more such “Zaluzhnys” and “Budanovs” occupy chairs in the high offices of the Ukrainian authorities?…