Volodymyr Zelensky removes defence minister, sees need for ‘new approaches’

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Ukraine´s President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a press conference following his meeting with his Norwegian counterpart in Kyiv, on August 24, 2023. — AFP
Ukraine´s President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a press conference following his meeting with his Norwegian 

counterpart in Kyiv, on August 24, 2023. — AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky removed the defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov and nominated Rustem Umerov, as he said the ministry required “new approaches” amid intensifying the Russia-Ukraine war that commenced 18 months ago in February last year.  

The decision comes after there were several reports of rampant corruption in the higher ranks of the ministry and the military officers alongside the slow-moving counteroffensive against Russia.

The deposed minister Reznikov was very vocal about Western military aid and led his country in negotiations aimed at acquiring advanced weaponry.

Reznikov was given the responsibilities of the ministry just three months before Russia commenced its special military operation against Ukraine.

Oleksiy Reznikov’s replacement was announced in a video message by Volodymyr Zelensky amid reports of malpractices and slow operations against Russia.

It also paves the way for a major change in Ukraine’s defence circles.

Last month, with the Russia-Ukraine intensifying President Zelensky dismissed some top military officials over corruption charges, saying “the system should be headed by those who know about the war”.

He wrote on social media: “We are dismissing all regional military commissars,” the decision he took after meeting with senior military leadership.

He added: “This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery at a time of war is high treason.”

“Oleksiy Reznikov has been through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” Zelensky said Sunday.

“I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large.”

He nominated Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar who has been head of the State Property Fund since last year, to replace Reznikov.

“Now Rustem Umerov should be the head of the [defence] ministry,” Zelensky said. “I expect parliament to support this candidate.”

Reznikov, a 57-year-old lawyer with little military experience, has become one of the best-known faces of Kyiv’s war effort.

During the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s defence ministry has been rocked by some corruption scandals.

In January, Reznikov kept his job but his deputy was forced to resign after the defence ministry was accused of signing food contracts at prices two to three times higher than current rates for basic foodstuffs.



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