Ukraine to replace its defense minister in a wartime overhaul

Ukraine's military intelligence agency head Kyrylo Budanov is tipped to head the country's defence ministry, according to a senior lawmaker. (Photo: AFP)

Ukraine will replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov with the head of its military intelligence agency in a major reorganization at the frontline of its war effort.

According to a close supporter of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Reznikov would be moved to another ministerial position and replaced by Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the GUR military intelligence agency.

David Arakhamia, a senior legislator and leader of the Servant of the People parliamentary caucus, stated on the Telegram messaging app, "War dictates changes in personnel policy,"

Reznikov's rearrangement would be the most prominent of a string of resignations and firings that followed a corruption scandal late last month and Zelenskiy's commitment to Ukraine to match Western norms for clean governance.

During warfare, Arakhamia stated that Ukraine's "force" agencies, such as the defence ministry, should not be led by politicians but by individuals with a background in defence or security.

Reznikov would be made minister of strategic industries, he claimed.

Reznikov stated on Sunday that any decision regarding a cabinet change rested with Zelenskiy. He told the Ukrainian Fakty ICTV online media that he was unaware of the transfer to the new ministry.

Reznikov said, "If I suddenly received such an offer from the president of Ukraine or the prime minister, I would refuse it because I do not have the expertise."

There was no immediate remark from Zelenskiy regarding replacing Reznikov, a former lawyer who became defence minister in November 2021, a few months before the 24 February 2022 commencement of Russia's full-scale invasion.

Arakhamia did not indicate when the change would become official.

Budanov, age 37, is a mysterious intelligence operator who ascended fast through the ranks to become the director of Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence. He has been decorated for his role in classified missions.

The reorganization corresponds with Ukrainian expectations that Russia may launch a massive onslaught this month. Ukraine is preparing its counteroffensive but is awaiting the arrival of tanks and infantry fighting equipment from the West.

Military aid overseer

When asked on Sunday night on national television about the likelihood of a cabinet overhaul, Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser in Ukraine, responded: "It's possible." "Reznikov was exceptionally effective in communicating with our partners. And this is a crucial component in this instance."

Reznikov, 56, built ties with Western defence leaders and oversaw the procurement of billions of dollars in military aid to help Kyiv repel the Russian invasion while serving as minister of defence during the war.

According to Podolyak, Reznikov's "wonderful" personal relationships with allies have aided the procurement of military supplies.

"Negotiations involve both mathematical equations and interpersonal ties. And faith. Unfortunately, nowadays, we are losing a portion of people's trust, "Podolyak stated.

Reznikov identified Ukraine's "de facto" integration into the NATO military alliance as a significant objective, even thode jure membershipiately feasible.

During his stint as defence minister, he expressed strong opposition to wartime corruption, which he compared to "marauding."

In recent weeks, however, his defence ministry became mired in a corruption scandal involving a deal for army food that called for drastically inflated costs. It prompted public uproar.

Since then, one of his deputy ministers and two other senior officials have resigned from their positions.

Numerous regional governors, deputy ministers, and other officials resigned due to Zelenskiy's massive upheaval, which was spurred by the scandal.

Reznikov conducted a news conference on Sunday afternoon (local time). He stated that Ukraine anticipated a probable massive Russian offensive this month, but Kyiv has the means to withstand it.

He also stated that his ministry's anti-corruption department needs to be restructured because it has failed to perform its duties.

Publish : 2023-02-06 09:59:00

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