Reznikov’s dismissal comes on the heels of an inflated military catering costs scandal.
In his nightly video address to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has been sacked from his position.
Zelensky announced that Reznikov would be replaced as he believes the ministry “needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society as a whole.”
“Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of a full-scale war. I believe that the [defense] ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society in general. Rustem Umerov is set to head the ministry now … I expect the parliament to support this candidacy,” the Ukrainian president explained.
Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar, would be replacing Reznikov, Zelensky also announced. Umerov has been the head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund since September 2022 and has been a main driver in some major war negotiations like the Black Sea grain deal.
A few days ago, Zelensky’s anti-corruption campaign fueled rumors that he may fire Ukraine’s Defense Minister following allegations of misconduct in the procurement of military supplies.
Back in January, Zelensky announced a substantial government overhaul. Simultaneously, at least nine top civil servants were fired for corruption, including four deputy ministers. Also, five regional governors, while numerous more high-ranking officials, including Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko and Deputy Head of Zelensky’s office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, resigned.
On August 31, unnamed officials in the Ukrainian cabinet and parliament reported that Reznikov may be voted to leave the parliament, according to the Ukrayinska Pravda website.
Reznikov has denied previous accusations by anti-corruption activists and journalists regarding purchasing food and uniforms at inflated prices.
Legally, although Ukraine’s President nominates ministers, their appointments and releases must be decided by parliament.
Back in January this year, Zelensky dismissed a group of ministers and administration officials and banned them from leaving the country following corruption scandals that emerged, including senior members of the defense ministry and top figures in Zelensky’s team.
The Ukrainian government announced that six ministers and five regional governors were dismissed, including Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of Zelensky’s office, and Viacheslav Shapovalov, a deputy Defense Minister.
It is worth noting that corruption swept Ukraine long before the beginning of the war. Today, corruption-plagued Kiev especially as hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and aid stream into the country, and the cost of reconstruction activities is anticipated to be in the billions. Furthermore, many have been warning that foreign weapons being supplied to Ukraine are sold on the black market, most notably in Africa.