Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced the dismissal of Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov in his nightly address, citing the need for “new approaches” in the defense ministry, as reported by the BBC. Oleksii Reznikov had assumed the role of defense minister in November 2021 and had previously served in various governmental positions, including deputy prime minister.
President Zelenskyy has nominated Rustem Umerov, a politician and businessman, to succeed Reznikov as defense minister, emphasizing the necessity for fresh perspectives and different modes of engagement with the military and society at large. Zelenskyy expressed his belief that the ministry should embrace new approaches.
As for Reznikov, it is anticipated that he will be appointed as Ukraine’s new ambassador to the United Kingdom. He gained international recognition due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been actively engaging with Ukraine’s Western allies, particularly in lobbying for additional military equipment. Reportedly, he had been exploring alternative roles with President Zelenskyy.
Ukrainian defense advisor Yuriy Sak told the BBC that Reznikov had played a pivotal role in transforming the ministry, paving the way for Ukraine’s potential NATO membership. Sak emphasized Reznikov’s legacy in convincing defense ministers worldwide that achieving the seemingly impossible was feasible.
In January of this year, President Zelenskyy initiated a cabinet shakeup, which involved the removal of several senior officials in response to a scandal related to the procurement of wartime supplies. Furthermore, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister resigned amid allegations of corruption.
Experts suggest that this cabinet reshuffle is unlikely to bring about significant changes in Ukraine’s battlefield strategy.
US President Joe Biden said in Delaware on Sunday that he is aware of Zelenskyy replacing his defence chief. Asked if he had any comment, Biden said, “not publicly.”
Zelenskyy’s announcement came after two people were hospitalized following a 3½-hour Russian drone barrage on a port in Ukraine’s Odesa region on Sunday, officials said.