The presidential office said Gen. Valery Zaluzhny’s declaration that the war is at a stalemate was helpful to the Russians.

The office of President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday chastised Ukraine’s top military commander for publicly declaring the war at a stalemate, suggesting the comments would help the Russian invasion. It was a striking public rebuke that signaled an emerging rift between the military and civilian leadership at an already challenging time for Ukraine.

Speaking on national television, a deputy head of the office of the president, Ihor Zhovkva, said Gen. Valery Zaluzhny’s assertion that the fight against Russia was deadlocked “eases the work of the aggressor,” adding that the comments stirred “panic” among Ukraine’s Western allies.

At the same time, Mr. Zelensky disputed the general’s characterization of the fighting. “Time has passed, people are tired, regardless of their status, and this is understandable,” he said at a news conference on Saturday, adding: “But this is not a stalemate, I emphasize this once again.”

The public censure of General Zaluzhny came a day after the president’s office replaced one of his deputies, the head of special operations forces, who after his firing said he had been blindsided by the dismissal. It was unclear whether General Zaluzhny, the overall commander of Ukraine’s forces, knew in advance of the planned dismissal.

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