Ukraine’s defense minister resigns after Zelensky announces his replacement

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Parliament Press Office, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov shows his resignation letter addressed to the Parliamentary Speaker in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Ukrainian Parliament Press Office via AP)
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Parliament Press Office, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov shows his resignation letter addressed to the Parliamentary Speaker in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Ukrainian Parliament Press Office via AP)

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov submits a letter of resignation after President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would be replaced and named his successor.

Oleksii Reznikov’s removal follows a scandal around the defense ministry’s procurement of military jackets. It was not the first similar case during the ongoing war.

Zelensky made the announcement on his official Telegram account, writing that new leadership was needed after Reznikov went through “more than 550 days of full-scale war.” He named Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker, as the new defense minister.

“Reznikov was a good and prominent international negotiator, but it appears that there is chaos and disorder within the Ministry of Defense, which many deputies have taken advantage of, resulting in corruption scandals during the war,” says analyst Volodymyr Fesenko from the Kyiv-based Penta Center.

“All actions of the Ukrainian authorities are geared toward the interests of the war, and scandals and statements about Ukraine’s slow counteroffensive in the face of very limited military resources compel Zelensky to be flexible and seek new personnel solutions.”

Reznikov was appointed in November 2021, several months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In his resignation letter, Reznikov points out that it was “not an easy journey” from his appointment until today, but that he had been part of the process of persuading international donors to give Ukraine sophisticated weaponry, from “the categorical refusal to provide Ukraine with Stingers in November 2021 to the creation of an ‘aviation coalition.'”

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