03 September 2023

Zelensky: Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov will be replaced this week

03 September 2023

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that defence minister Oleksii Reznikov will be replaced this week with Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar politician.

“I have decided to replace the Minister of Defence of Ukraine,” he said on his official Telegram account.

“Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war.

“Now Rustem Umerov should lead the Ministry.”

Later in his nightly address, Mr Zelensky said he believes “that the Ministry needs new approaches and different formats of interaction both with the military and with society”.

“The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is well acquainted with this person, and Umerov does not require additional introductions. I expect support for this candidacy from parliament,” the president told the nation.

Mr Umerov, 41, a politician with the opposition Holos party, has served as head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine since September 2022.

He was involved in the exchange of prisoners of war, political prisoners, children and civilians, as well as the evacuation of civilians from occupied territories.

Mr Umerov was also part of the Ukrainian delegation in negotiations with Russia over the UN-backed grain deal.

In August, a scandal arose around the Ministry of Defence’s procurement of military jackets.

Ukrainian investigative journalists reported that the materials were purchased at a price three times higher than normal and that instead of winter jackets, summer ones were ordered.

In the customs documents from the supplier, the jackets were priced at 29 dollars (£23) per unit, but the Ministry of Defence paid 86 dollars (£68) per unit. Mr Reznikov denied the allegations during a news conference last week.

Mr Zelensky’s announcement came after two people were hospitalised following a three-and-a-half-hour Russian drone barrage on a port in Ukraine’s Odesa region on Sunday, officials said.

US President Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware on Sunday that he is aware Mr Zelensky had replaced his defence chief. Asked if he had any comment, Mr Biden said: “Not publicly.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox