Ukraine President Zelenskiy to Replace Defense Minister

Zelenskiy to replace defense minister

Ukraine President Zelenskiy to Replace Defense Minister – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has announced a significant shake-up in the country’s defence establishment by firing his defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, and appointing Rustem Umerov, the head of Ukraine’s main privatisation fund, as his replacement. This move marks the most extensive reshuffle in Ukraine’s defence leadership since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

President Zelenskiy stated that he will seek parliamentary approval for Umerov’s appointment this week, highlighting that Umerov requires no further introduction. The 41-year-old ex-lawmaker and Crimean Tatar have been at the helm of Ukraine’s State Property Fund since September 2022. He has also played a crucial role in sensitive wartime negotiations, including the Black Sea grain deal, and has received praise for his efforts to combat corruption within the fund.

Reznikov’s Legacy

Oleksii Reznikov, who had served as defence minister since November 2021, played a vital role in securing substantial Western military aid to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. He advocated for Western nations to provide advanced military equipment, including German-made main battle tanks and HIMARS rocket artillery, and Ukraine is poised to receive U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in the near future.

Zelenskiy to Replace Defense Minister
Zelenskiy to Replace Defense Minister – Oleksii Reznikov

While Reznikov was lauded for his efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities, he also faced allegations of corruption within his ministry. These allegations included inflated food procurement prices and accusations related to the procurement of winter coats for the army. Reznikov consistently denied any wrongdoing, attributing the allegations to a smear campaign.

Zelenskiy’s anti-corruption drive

Zelenskiy’s decision to replace Reznikov aligns with his commitment to combating corruption in Ukraine, a key focus as the country seeks EU membership. Zelenskiy emphasized the need for new approaches and interactions between the defence ministry, the military, and society. He expressed gratitude for Reznikov’s service, acknowledging the challenging 550 days of full-scale war that the outgoing defence minister navigated.

Western military aid has played a pivotal role in Ukraine’s war efforts, enabling Ukrainian forces to push back Russian troops and launch counteroffensives in various regions. As the conflict continues, Ukraine’s troops are in intense battles to reclaim territory in the southeast and east, often facing heavily mined areas and Russian defensive lines.

The Pentagon declined to comment on Zelenskiy’s decision, considering it an internal matter for the Ukrainian government.