On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a move that comes amid Ukraine’s struggling counteroffensive.
“Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.
Zelensky said he wanted to replace Reznikov with Rustem Umerov, the head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund. Zelensky said he expected the Ukrainian parliament to approve the decision. Replacing Reznikov will mark the most significant shake-up in Ukrainian military leadership since Russia invaded last year.
Rumors of Reznikov’s ousting began surfacing back in February 2023, when a corruption scandal revealed the Defense Ministry was purchasing food and other goods at an inflated price. Reznikov was not personally implicated in the scheme, but it took place while he was leading the ministry.
Throughout the war, Reznikov had made several candid comments about Ukraine’s relationship with NATO. He described Ukraine as a “de facto” NATO member and once said Ukrainians were “shedding blood” for the alliance.
“We are carrying out NATO’s mission today. They aren’t shedding their blood. We’re shedding ours. That’s why they’re required to supply us with weapons,” Reznikov said in January 2023.
Reznikov also offered his country to Western arms makers to be used as a testing ground for new weapons. “We are interested in testing modern systems in the fight against the enemy, and we are inviting arms manufacturers to test the new products here,” he said in July 2022.