The president announced on Thursday the two generals, who worked for Ukraine’s national security service, had been dismissed for failing to do their duty to protect the country. He also warned other “antiheroes” would be punished for similar behaviour.
Mr Zelensky said in a speech: “Regarding antiheroes. Now, I do not have time to deal with all the traitors. But gradually they will all be punished.
“That is why the ex-chief of the Main Department of Internal Security of the Security Service of Ukraine Naumov Andriy Olehovych and the former head of the Office of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Kherson region Kryvoruchko Serhiy Oleksandrovych are no longer generals.”
He did not go into detail on why the pair were removed from the national security service. However, he noted that under the Ukrainian army’s disciplinary statute, officers who violated their “military oath” would be dismissed.
Mr Zelensky said: “Those servicemen among senior officers who have not decided where their homeland is, who violate the military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people as regards (to) the protection of our state, its freedom and independence, will inevitably be deprived of senior military ranks.
“Random generals don’t belong here!”
The speech marked the first time Mr Zelensky had publicly announced high-profile sackings of individuals involved in defending Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
In regular impassioned speeches delivered since the start of the invasion, the president has urged both Ukrainians and the world to unite against Russia.
The president recently recalled two Ukrainian ambassadors in Georgia and Morocco, arguing they had not done enough to persuade their hosts to support Ukraine and punish Russia for its unprovoked and brutal attack.
In his nightly address to his country on Thursday, Mr Zelensky told Ukrainian ambassadors abroad that they should “look for other work” if they cannot drum up diplomatic support or sanctions to combat the war.
He said: “With all due respect, if there won’t be weapons, won’t be sanctions, won’t be restrictions for Russian business, then please look for other work.
“I am waiting for concrete results in the coming days from the work of our representatives in Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.”
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He added that he was expecting results from Ukraine’s ambassadors in embassies abroad to drum up support for the country’s struggle against Russia, which invaded on February 24.
He added that “the diplomatic front is one of the key fronts”.
Meanwhile, Russia fired one of its top generals last month following claims that he had leaked information which compromised their invasion.
General Roma Gavrilov, 45, the deputy chief of Vladimir Putin’s National Guard, was detained by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the investigative news website Bellingcat reported.
The sacking followed claims that Mr Gavrilov had “squandered” much-needed fuel as Russian forces struggled on the battlefield.
Experts have suggested Putin may be looking for scapegoats to take the blame for the floundering war effort, as Kremlin troops have suffered heavy losses and struggled to gain control in Ukraine.
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In his speech on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said the situation in the south of Ukraine and the Donbas region remained “extremely difficult”.
He said: “The invaders are allocating their sick creativity to the temporarily occupied areas of the Kherson region. They are trying to organise some of their incomprehensible structures there, they are trying to figure out how to consolidate their presence there.
“Of course, this is hopeless for them. The more active they are there, the more substantial the losses of Russia itself will be in the end. The losses of Russians themselves. Because who else will pay for the occupation of a foreign land?”
He reiterated that Russia was building up forces near the besieged city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy fire for weeks.
Fresh efforts were underway on Friday to evacuate tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Mariupol. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of blocking humanitarian convoys attempting to enter Mariupol despite agreeing to open up corridors in and out of the city.
Mr Zelensky also said Ukrainian forces had pushed back Kremlin troops from Kyiv and Chernihiv in a major blow to Russia’s war effort.