‘He sold out’ – Top Ukrainian general’s stepson speaks to RT

Ivan Syrsky has opened up about his father’s character and betrayal

FILE PHOTO: Vladimir Zelensky and General Aleksandr Syrsky, September 5, 2023. ©  Global Look Press / Keystone Press Agency / Pool /Ukrainian Presidentia

Aleksandr Syrsky was once a good father and an honorable man, his stepson Ivan has told RT in an exclusive interview. The ethnic Russian general became the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of earlier this year.

Ivan Syrsky lives in Australia, where he moved with his mother and half-brother Anton 15 years ago. Unlike his stepfather, he has applied for Russian citizenship and supports Moscow in the Ukraine conflict. 

“Several times, when I was still in elementary school, we went to his parents in Russia: first in Moscow Region, then in Vladimir,” Ivan told RT. “We were all considered Russians back then, and I never heard a bad word from him about Russia or Donbass. But he definitely never considered himself a Ukrainian.”

Syrsky stayed in Ukraine after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, where he continued to serve in the armed forces. Following the US-backed coup in Kiev in 2014, the new government launched its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” (ATO) against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east. By now a general, Syrsky was in charge of troops during the early 2015  military confrontation in Debaltsevo. 

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“We were stunned when we learned that he had been appointed commander of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbass [in 2014],” Ivan told RT. “Especially remembering that he was never a patriot of Ukraine, he never even wanted to learn Ukrainian.”

Aleksandr Syrsky was made head of the ATO in 2017 and was promoted again to lead Ukraine’s ground forces in 2019. He became commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in February, after Vladimir Zelensky sacked General Valery Zaluzhny.

“When he was appointed commander-in-chief, this was the last straw for me,” Ivan said. Since the start of Russia’s military operation, he has not once communicated with his stepfather, he revealed. “And I don’t intend to. He sold his homeland for his career.”

Ivan’s mother and Syrsky divorced in 2009. She moved to Australia the following year, with Ivan and Syrsky’s biological son Anton. Syrsky “already had another family and another life” by that point, Ivan said.

Before that, however, Syrsky had never treated him like a stepson. “He was like a real father to me,” Ivan told RT. He remembered Syrsky as a “strong, proud, purposeful person,” who would criticize the Ukrainian government for corruption and “stupid political decisions.”

Read more Stepson of Ukraine’s top general says he wants Russian citizenship

“One day, he came home in a rage because someone who had copied from him at the military academy had been promoted to be his superior,” Ivan recalled. “He also became quite angry when, after the ‘Orange Maidan’ [in 2004] retired Major [Anatoly] Gritsenko was appointed minister of defense.”

Asked if he considered his father an enemy now, Ivan thought for a minute.

“It’s hard,” he said. “He is a traitor to me. We are definitely on opposite sides of the barricades. And if we met on the battlefield, then… I always have in mind the image from the film ‘Taras Bulba’ – only this time I am the Cossack, and he is with the Poles.”

In Nikolay Gogol’s masterpiece, the title character ends up killing one of his sons for siding with the Polish against the Zaporozhian Cossacks.


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