President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on Sunday that he was changing his minister of protection, the most important shake-up within the management of Ukraine’s battle effort since Russia’s full-scale invasion started, citing the necessity for “new approaches” after greater than 18 months of battle.
The destiny of the protection minister, Oleksii Reznikov, had been the topic of accelerating hypothesis in Ukraine as monetary improprieties within the ministry got here to gentle and the federal government began a number of investigations into official corruption.
Mr. Zelensky stated in an announcement that Mr. Reznikov, who has not been personally implicated within the widening investigations into mishandling of army contracts, would get replaced by Rustem Umerov, the chairman of Ukraine’s State Property Fund. Mr. Zelensky stated he anticipated Ukraine’s Parliament, which should approve the change, to log out on his request.
“Oleksii Reznikov has gone by greater than 550 days of full-scale battle,” Mr. Zelensky stated in an announcement saying his choice on Sunday evening. “I consider that the ministry wants new approaches and different codecs of interplay with each the army and society at massive.”
The choice to switch Mr. Reznikov atop the Protection Ministry comes as Ukraine is within the midst of a significant counteroffensive, slowly gaining territory within the south and the east. Final week, Ukrainian officers stated they’d captured the southern village of Robotyne, suggesting that the offensive had penetrated the primary layer of minefields, tank traps, trenches and bunkers Moscow has deployed between Ukraine’s forces and Russian-occupied Crimea.
The shake-up arose from a number of elements, in keeping with an official within the president’s workplace, who was not licensed to talk publicly concerning the dismissal. These included an understanding that Ukraine will want new management because the battle drags on, the din of criticism from Ukrainian civil society teams and media over the contracting scandals, and Mr. Reznikov’s personal requests to step down.
Although a member of an opposition political get together, Mr. Umerov, a former funding banker, has taken on a number of crucial roles for the Zelensky authorities because the battle started. He was the chief Ukrainian negotiator of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and a outstanding negotiator on prisoner exchanges.
He’s a Crimean Tatar, a member of the ethnic group persecuted below Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.
On Monday morning Mr. Reznikov, who has repeatedly confronted questions on his future in current weeks, together with about whether or not he would transfer to a diplomatic position as ambassador to Britain, stated he had submitted his letter of resignation to the chairman of Ukraine’s Parliament.
“It was an honor to serve the Ukrainian folks and work for the #UAarmy for the final 22 months, the hardest interval of Ukraine’s fashionable historical past,” he wrote on social media, with out mentioning a brand new task.
For the reason that begin of the battle, Mr. Reznikov has turn into a public face for Ukraine on the world stage. He was amongst a handful of Mr. Zelensky’s prime safety officers who remained in Kyiv, the capital, because it was partially surrounded by Russian forces after the beginning of the invasion in February 2022.
The choice to switch Mr. Reznikov however, Ukraine has skilled way more stability over the course of the invasion than Russia.
Moscow has undergone a number of army management adjustments amid criticism of its battlefield ways, and in June, there was a short rebel by the mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who marched members of his Wagner personal army firm towards Moscow. He was declared lifeless after a fiery airplane crash final month that some Western officers have urged had been orchestrated by President Vladimir V. Putin.
In October 2022, the Kremlin appointed Gen. Sergei Surovikin to command its forces in Ukraine. He lasted simply three months earlier than he was changed by Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking army officer. U.S. officers have stated Normal Surovikin had advance information of the rebel plans of Mr. Prigozhin.
Mr. Reznikov had received reward for negotiating the switch of huge portions of donated Western weaponry, and he oversaw the enlargement of the military and its transition from an arsenal of Soviet-legacy armaments to Western methods whilst his nation was below assault.
Within the first month of the battle, Ukraine’s military rebuffed Russia’s invasion with international army help restricted principally to shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, however it has since integrated a wide-ranging arsenal of Western heavy weaponry. In its counteroffensive within the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk areas within the nation’s south, Ukraine has relied on U.S. and European armored automobiles, tanks, artillery and guided rockets.
However the Ministry of Protection has been buffeted this 12 months by a string of allegations of mishandling army contracting and corruption as its finances ballooned. At one level, $986 million value of weaponry the ministry had contracted for was undelivered by dates laid out in contracts, in keeping with authorities figures. Some deliveries are months late.
Ukrainian investigative journalists have discovered different woes with army contracting, seeming to indicate large overpayments for primary provides for the military reminiscent of eggs, canned beans and winter coats.
Mr. Reznikov had stated the ministry was suing to recoup cash misplaced within the weapons contracts. Authorities officers have stated lots of the issues had arisen within the early, chaotic days of the battle in Ukraine’s frantic scramble to purchase weapons and ammunition and have since been fastened. Two ministry officers — a deputy minister and head of procurement — had been arrested over the winter after the experiences of overpriced eggs.
With some U.S. critics of the battle citing graft as an argument for limiting army help to Ukraine, the White Home nationwide safety adviser, Jake Sullivan, final week met with three high-ranking Ukrainian officers to debate efforts to stamp out wartime corruption.
The contracting scandals prompted some requires Mr. Reznikov’s resignation, however it seems that the change was not anticipated in Washington.
As of Friday, Mr. Reznikov was scheduled to go to the Pentagon later this week to fulfill with Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. The 2 males had common contact and spoke “comparatively ceaselessly,” in keeping with a U.S. official who spoke on background because the information was breaking on Sunday. It’s believed that they final met in particular person on the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.
Corruption has plagued Ukraine for many of its post-independence historical past, however the state of affairs improved over the previous decade, in keeping with assessments by Transparency Worldwide, a worldwide anti-corruption group. Mr. Zelensky campaigned on an anti-corruption platform earlier than successful the presidency in 2019, and efforts to battle graft have been broadly acknowledged as essential to Ukraine’s efforts to maneuver nearer to its Western allies, together with its hopes of becoming a member of the European Union.
In current weeks, Mr. Zelensky has stepped up measures in opposition to wartime graft, firing all of the nation’s recruitment officers after bribery scandals and proposing a regulation that may punish corruption as treason below martial regulation.
In Might, the top of Ukraine’s Supreme Court docket was detained in a bribery investigation. And on Friday, Ukrainian media reported that and a courtroom set bail at greater than $25,000 for a former deputy minister of financial system accused of embezzling humanitarian help.
The allegations dogging the ministry aren’t associated to Western weapons transfers however to home weapons procurement, which isn’t straight financed by help from allies. These international locations switch weapons and ammunition on to the Ukrainian military, whereas monetary help is directed to nonmilitary spending. Ukrainian tax revenues fund protection procurement, the place the accusations of mismanagement arose.
In an earlier shake-up final summer time, Mr. Zelensky dismissed the director of his home intelligence company and prosecutor common, additionally within the wake of allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
Carol Rosenberg and Daniel Victor contributed reporting.