Mr. Zelensky Replaces Defense Minister After Corruption Reports

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In a video address posted on Telegram on Sunday evening, Zelensky announced his decision to dismiss Oleksiy Reznikov from his position after reports of corruption in his department. Rustem Umerov, the head of the State Property Fund, will replace him. Reznikov signed off on inflated military catering projects.

“I have decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Oleksiy Reznikov went through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction both with the military and with society as a whole,” Zelensky said.

THE NEW APPROACHES ARE THE OLD APPROACHES

The new approaches include more defense packages; move grain through the sea corridor; and launching membership negotiations with the European Union.

[Direct war with Russia could happen at any time.]

The Parliament has to give its rubber stamp approval, and it will. Reznikov has already submitted his resignation.

Investigative journalists in Kyiv alleged that high-ranking officials within the defense ministry had signed off on military catering contracts to suppliers at inflated prices. While Reznikov did not personally negotiate the contracts, it was suggested that his removal would be necessary to restore faith in the ministry and adhere to a zero-tolerance approach to corruption.

The move comes just hours after Reznikov, 57, revealed Ukrainian pilots would commence combat missions using the U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in the spring.

THE REPLACEMENT

Umerov, age 41, has been involved in several diplomatic initiatives in recent times. He co-chaired the Crimea Platform in August 2021. The goal was to reverse the Russian annexation of Crimea.

More recently, he represented Ukraine in peace talks at the beginning of the Russian invasion last year. he played a role in the wartime negotiations over the Black Sea grain deal.

The reshuffle at the Ukrainian defense ministry comes as Russia is allegedly suffering “mounting casualties.” Russia is allegedly attempting to lure Central Asian migrants from neighboring countries into its military ranks. They are promising fast-track citizenship, according to an intelligence report from the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Zelensky, photo screenshot from his official Telegram channel as he announced Reznikov’s departure.
CORRUPTION

The decision came less than a month after Zelenskyy fired officials in charge of military conscription. He cited corruption allegations that he said could amount to treason.

“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,” he wrote on social media at the time.

According to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180. CBS News said efforts in recent years have seen its position improve “significantly.” It went up by +1 since 2021. CBS News called this significant.


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