Russia & FSU

Zelensky fires security chief

The head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (SNBO), Aleksey Danilov, has been relieved of his dutiesZelensky fires security chief

Zelensky fires security chief

FILE PHOTO: Aleksey Danilov. ©  Aleksandr Gusev / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky dismissed the head of the National Security and Defense Council (SNBO), Aleksey Danilov, on Tuesday. The security chief has been known to resort to combative and abrasive rhetoric.

A relevant decree was published on the Ukrainian president’s official website. The document provided no reason for the decision.

Aleksandr Litvinenko was named as the new SNBO chief, a separate decree said. He has been at the helm of the Ukrainian foreign intelligence service since July 2021 and served as the deputy SNBO head before that.

Danilov has been known for his harsh statements during his tenure. In late 2023, he insisted that all Ukrainians must “grow up” and fight, when commenting on Kiev’s recruitment efforts. At the time, he also said that Ukraine’s planned mobilization drive would not last one day or one month, but that the whole process could take at least a year.

In November, he called for a crackdown on officials who disparage Zelensky while talking to Western journalists on condition of anonymity. Danilov also slammed the messaging app Telegram, calling it “dangerous and vulnerable.” The app supposedly provides space for people seeking to influence Ukrainian society, he said in November, adding that he was ready to ban it outright unless certain conditions are met. 

The former SNBO chief was also critical of Kiev’s Western backers. In December, he stated that NATO’s war textbooks should be shelved as none of them could prepare soldiers for the war in Ukraine. He also repeatedly demanded more weapons for Kiev, warning that any setbacks suffered by the Ukrainian forces would damage the West’s own “image, authority and unity.”

In February 2024, Danilov demanded that the EU hand over all its heavy weapons to Ukraine, adding that the bloc itself would not need them anyway in future conflicts. 

Last week, the former official insulted China’s special representative on Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, over Beijing’s plans to potentially boycott international talks on the Ukraine conflict, which Kiev seeks to convene without Russia in Switzerland. Danilov mocked the Chinese diplomat’s name, using an obscene play on words, while commenting on the issue.

In August 2023, Danilov also infamously claimed during a state-approved TV “broadcasting marathon” that Russians were less “humane” than Ukrainians due to being “Asians.” Earlier, the former SNBO chief repeatedly promised to “kill” Russians everywhere, across the globe.


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