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Zelensky Says He’ll Replace Oleksii Reznikov as Ukraine’s Defense Minister


President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned on Sunday that he was changing his minister of protection, the largest shake-up within the management of Ukraine’s conflict effort since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February final yr.

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 mild and the federal government began a number of investigations into official corruption.

Mr. Zelensky mentioned 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 mentioned he anticipated Ukraine’s Parliament, which should approve the change, to log off on his request.

“Oleksii Reznikov has gone by greater than 550 days of full-scale conflict,” Mr. Zelensky mentioned in an announcement saying his resolution on Sunday night time. “I imagine that the ministry wants new approaches and different codecs of interplay with each the army and society at massive.”

There was no fast remark from Mr. Reznikov, who has been a public face for Ukraine on the world stage. He was amongst a handful of Mr. Zelensky’s high safety officers who remained in Kyiv, the capital, because it was partially surrounded by Russian forces after the beginning of the invasion.

Mr. Reznikov had received reward for negotiating the switch of huge portions of donated Western weaponry below the Ramstein format talks with allies, named for the town in Germany the place they started final yr. He oversaw the growth of the military and its transition from an arsenal of Soviet-legacy armaments to Western methods whilst his nation was below assault.

However the Ministry of Protection this yr was buffeted by a string of allegations of mishandling army contracting and corruption as its finances ballooned in the course of the conflict. At one level, $986 million value of weaponry the ministry had contracted for was undelivered by dates laid out in contracts, in accordance with authorities figures. Some deliveries are months late.

Ukrainian investigative journalists have discovered different woes with army contracting, seeming to point out large overpayments for primary provides for the military equivalent to eggs, canned beans and winter coats.

Mr. Reznikov had mentioned the ministry was suing to recoup cash misplaced within the weapons contracts. Authorities officers have mentioned lots of the issues had arisen within the early, chaotic days of the conflict 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 studies of overpriced eggs.

Even so, the contracting scandals prompted calls for for Mr. Reznikov’s resignation. For weeks, Mr. Reznikov has confronted questions on his future throughout information conferences, typically saying that it was as much as Mr. Zelensky to find out the make-up of his authorities.

Corruption has plagued Ukraine for many of its post-independence historical past however had improved over the previous decade, in accordance 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 extensively 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 latest 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 will punish corruption as treason below martial regulation.

In Could, the pinnacle of Ukraine’s Supreme Court docket was detained in a bribery investigation. And on Friday, Ukrainian media reported that and a court docket set bail at greater than $25,000 for a former deputy minister of economic system accused of embezzling humanitarian assist.

In an earlier shake-up final summer season, Mr. Zelensky had dismissed the director of his home intelligence company and prosecutor common, additionally within the wake of allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

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