Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked his defense minister, citing the need for “new approaches” as the war with Russia enters its nineteenth month.
“This week, Parliament will be asked to decide on personnel… I have decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Zelensky said: Oleksiy Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of total war.
The president nominated Rustam Umarov, a former people’s deputy of Ukraine, to become the new defense minister.
“The Verkhovna Rada knows this person well, and Mr. Omirov does not need any additional definitions,” Zelensky said. I expect Parliament to support this candidate.”
Reznikov has been defense minister since November 2021, having previously held other government positions such as deputy prime minister, according to his resume posted on the Defense Ministry’s website.
His dismissal follows a number of corruption scandals involving Ukraine’s defense ministry.
Zelensky sacked a slew of senior officials at the start of the year over a scandal over wartime supply purchases; The country’s deputy defense minister resigned after facing allegations of corruption; Then in August, Zelensky fired all officials responsible for the regional military recruitment centers, citing numerous ongoing criminal proceedings.
While Reznikov was not involved in any of these scandals, they were still seen as doing him a disservice by being associated with them.
On Saturday, Ihor Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs and a key supporter of Zelensky, was arrested as part of a fraud investigation.
Zelensky said rooting out corruption in Ukraine’s government was vital to Kiev’s chances of gaining long-awaited membership in NATO and the European Union.
According to the 2021 Transparency International report, Ukraine is the second most corrupt country in Europe after Russia. Globally, it ranked 122 out of 180 countries.
Zelensky’s promise to rid the government of corruption was one of the reasons behind his rapid rise to power in 2019. A former comedian who played Ukraine’s president on a hit TV show, Zelensky had no political experience at the time of his election — but he did. Capitalizing on the country’s deep-rooted disappointment and disgust over rampant corruption.
Ukraine officially became a candidate for EU membership last year, but Brussels has made clear that Kiev will need to intensify its fight against corruption if it is to become a full member.
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