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Enter Oleksandr Syrskyi or the latest stage of the Russo-Russian civil war

On February 2024, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, replaced Valerii Zaluzhnyi with Oleksandr Syrskyi as commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army. Who is General Oleksandr Syrskyi?

He is an ethnic Russian, born in central Russia to Russian parents with Russian relatives the length and breadth of his family. He graduated from a Soviet military academy and swore allegiance as a Soviet military officer to the Soviet Union. It so happened that during the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union Oleksandr Syrskyi served in Ukraine and was faced with a choice: either to relocate to Russia and serve in the Russian army or to stay in Ukraine and serve in the Ukrainian army. As it were, during the Yeltsin era, when Russia was afflicted with all kinds of crises – economic, social, political – its army was also in deep trouble. That explains why though Oleksandr Syrskyi with the aid of his father – a retired Soviet colonel – sought employment in the Russian armed forces he could only be offered a position that was much below his military rank. That made him reconsider. Since the Ukrainian army offered him a higher rank, he made his choice. In furtherance of his career.

Still, his parents and his brother has remained and continue to live in Russia, loyal to their country and President Putin, taking part in the annual Immortal Regiment marches.

Oleksandr Syrskyi was born in the Vladimir Oblast (region, province), some 200 km east of Moscow, in 1965. His paternal grandfather fought throughout the entire Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, and was awarded the medal For Bravery and the Order of the Red Star; his maternal grandfather went to the front as a volunteer and died in an ambush. Syrskyi has a Ukrainian wife and two sons of which one has been living in Australia for years and remains highly critical of his father’s disloyalty towards Russia.

The new commander-in-chief is said not to enjoy popularity in the army. Contrarily, he is nicknamed either a “Russian officer”, or “Soviet general”, or “Bakhmut butcher”. He earned the last of the nicknames after his inefficient command during the fight for Bakhmut, where it is said he did not particularly economize on the soldiers’ blood. Needless to say, Oleksandr Syrskyi needed to learn the Ukrainian language (just as President Zelenskyy) and speaks it with a Russian accent.

No wonder that President Putin describes the ongoing hostilities as civil war. Russians kill Russians just as Spaniards killed Spaniards during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, or Americans killed Americans during the War of Secession of 1861-65, or the English killed the English during the times of the English Civil War of 1642-51.

Towards the end of the interview that Tucker Carlson conducted with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin told a short story related to him from the front line in Ukraine. The story was about a Ukrainian unit that was encircled by the Russian troops with no chance of either winning the skirmish or making their way through the encirclement. The Russians proposed surrender to which the encircled Ukrainians replied – in Russian: Russians! never surrender. There you have it. 

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