Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov dismissed
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the removal of Oleksii Reznikov from his position as Defense Minister. Mr. Reznikov had held this role since before the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
During his evening address, President Zelensky emphasized the need for “fresh perspectives” within the defense ministry.
As a replacement for Mr. Reznikov, Rustem Umerov, who currently oversees Ukraine’s State Property Fund, has been nominated by President Zelensky.
“I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society as a whole,” the Ukrainian president said in his address from the capital Kyiv.
Ukrainian media has speculated that Mr Reznikov will become Kyiv’s new ambassador in London, where he has developed good relations with senior politicians.
Mr Reznikov, 57, has become a well-known figure since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Internationally recognized, he has regularly attended meetings with Ukraine’s Western allies and played a key role in lobbying for additional military equipment.
But his dismissal has been anticipated for some time. Last week, Mr Reznikov told reporters he was exploring other positions with the Ukrainian president.
According to Ukrainian media, the former defense minister said that if Mr. Zelensky offered the opportunity for him to work on another project he would probably agree.
His dismissal comes amid a wider anti-corruption drive in Mr Zelensky’s administration, with weeding out graft in the state seen as essential to Ukraine’s desire to join Western institutions like the EU.
According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180, but efforts in recent years have seen its position improve significantly.
While Mr. Reznikov is not personally accused of corruption, there have been a number of scandals involving procurement at the Ministry of Defence over goods and equipment for the army.
Earlier this year Mr Reznikov’s deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, resigned in the wake of the scandal. It was widely reported at the time that Mr Reznikov barely held on to his own post.
At the time, Mr. Reznikov said the stress he had endured this year “is hard to measure precisely”, adding that his “conscience is absolutely clear”.
He will be replaced by Mr. Umerov, who represented Ukraine in peace talks at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The Ukrainian MP allegedly suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning during peace negotiations in March 2022 alongside Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich – who was also part of the negotiating party. In a statement posted to Facebook, he later denied the reports, urging people not to trust “unverified information”.
Speaking to the BBC at the time, he said it took courage to find solutions but he was determined “to find [a] political and diplomatic resolution to this brutal invasion”.
Mr Reznikov’s dismissal comes as Ukraine wages a slow and bloody counter-offensive after securing more advanced weapons from Western allies.
Progress on the frontline has been slow but top Ukrainian generals said on Sunday that their forces have broken through a key line of Russian defenses in the south of the country.
Meanwhile, Russia reported several attempted drone attacks on its territory overnight.
The defense ministry said it shot down two drones over the Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, early on Monday.
The region’s governor Roman Stravoit also reported on Sunday that debris from a destroyed drone had caused a fire at a non-residential building in the city of Kurchatov.
Elsewhere, Russia launched its own overnight attack on Izmail port – one of Ukraine’s two major grain-exporting ports on the Danube River in the Odesa region.
The Danube ports have become Ukraine’s major exporting route since the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July.
Moscow has launched frequent attacks on the Danube since withdrawing from the deal in July.