There are several pieces on Telegram reporting on the death by grenade of a senior aide to General Valeri Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s Commander of the Armed Forces. Major Gennady Chestyakov had returned to his home in Kiev to celebrate his birthday and opened a gift containing four grenades, courtesy of A. V. Timchenko, who is the senior assistant to the deputy commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Chetyakov’s 13 year old son reportedly tried, but failed, to pull the firing pin out of one of the grenades. His dad reportedly decided to show him how it is done. He grabbed the grenade, pulled the pin and BOOM! The ensuing blast killed Major Chestyakov and seriously wounded his son.
That is a helluva birthday gift. There is a fundamental rule with firearms that also applies to grenades — always assume the gun (or grenade) is loaded until you verify it is unloaded or inert. Was this just a macabre accident caused by carelessness by both Timchenko and Major Chestyakov? Or was it something more sinister?
Chestyakov’s death comes on the heels of General Zaluzhny spilling dirt last week to the Economist on the bleak outlook for Ukraine’s war with Russia. Naturally, many on people on social media postulated that Chestyakov’s death by grenade was a deliberate act designed to send General Zaluzhny a message — keep your lips buttoned or else.
Some of the initial reports claimed that the gift was a set of shot glasses that looked like grenades. When I heard that I was inclined to believe that this was an assassination plot. But after looking at the picture above I doubt that claim. Those look like real grenades and should have been treated as such. Major Chestyakov made the deadly assumption that Timchenko sent him a “gag” gift and foolishly failed to treat the “gift” as live grenades. That failure to follow protocol proved fatal.
Timchenko is now on the hot seat. Ukrainian investigators will sit him down and determine if he really did send the grenades as a gift. If he did not actually send that gift then this “accident” will take on a whole new slant. Maybe there was someone intent on trying to harm Chestyakov and his family.
Regardless of the motive, this is a bad look for Zaluzhny. At a minimum it shows that one of his officers was grossly unprofessional in handling a weapon system. Or it could show that there dissension in the senior ranks surrounding Zaluzhny.
One other observation about the meaning of Zaluzhny’s Economist interview and articles. This happened with the blessing of the U.K.’s MI-6, which means that the Brits are shifting away from supporting Zelensky and are pushing Zaluzhny as potential replacement for the current Ukrainian President. I think that is the message Zelensky took away from Zaluzhny’s Economist performances. This is a deliberate measure to fracture the relationship between Zelensky and Zaluzhny. Prior to Zaluzhny spilling his guts in the Economist, he already had a strained, contentious relationship, according to several sources, with the tiny comedian masquerading as President of Ukraine.
The political situation in Ukraine is going to become more chaotic and unstable in the coming weeks. When Avdeevka falls to the Russians the scapegoat game in Kiev will reach a boiling point. I think Zelensky’s days as President are numbered. It is far from certain that he enjoys wide support among the senior officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
I discussed Ukraine and the war in Gaza with my friend, Rasheed Muhammad today.
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