The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenksy, confirmed for the first time reports that there was a crisis in his relationship with the supreme commander of the Ukrainian army, General Valery Zaluzny, as he admitted in an interview with RAI TV that he is considering deporting the – popular to his country – officer.

This prospect has sparked a storm of reactions in Ukraine, causing concern even among Kiev’s Western allies.

In particular, when asked if he was considering the ouster of General Zaluzny, Zelensky told Italy’s RAI TV that he was considering it as part of a broader issue of charting the country’s course. Said that “a reset, a fresh start is necessary” and “it is not about a person but the direction of the country’s leadership”.

“I’m thinking about this replacement, but you can’t say here that it’s about replacing a person,” Zelensky said. “When we talk about this, I mean replacing a number of government officials, not just in one area like the military. If we want to win we must all push in the same direction, convinced of victory, we cannot be discouraged, we must have the right positive energy”.

Zelensky’s comments they marked his first confirmation that he is considering ousting the widely popular general, a possibility that has caused an uproar in Ukraine and delighted the Kremlin as the war nears its second anniversary.

According to Ukrainian and Western media reports, Zelensky last week offered Zaluzny to resign, but the general refused.

Tensions between the president and Zaluzny have risen as the country faces dire shortages of ammunition and personnel following the summer counteroffensive. The need for widespread mobilization to cover the military ranks was reportedly one of the areas of disagreement.

Zelensky said late last year that he rejected the army’s request to recruit up to 500,000 people, asking for more details on how it would be organized and paid.