Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to replace defence minister in wartime shake-up

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Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on Sunday that he would exchange his defence minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, in a transfer that marks the most important change to his authorities since Russia launched its full-scale invasion final yr.

Zelenskyy stated he would exchange Reznikov, who led Ukraine’s profitable push for enormous army help from western allies to withstand Russia’s invasion, with Rustem Umerov, who presently runs the nation’s company in command of privatisation.

“Oleksiy Reznikov has gone via greater than 550 days of full-scale struggle. I consider that the ministry wants new approaches and different codecs of interplay with each the army and society at massive,” Zelenskyy stated in a video tackle to the nation on Sunday night.

“Autumn is a time for strengthening.”

The transfer to switch Reznikov comes as Ukrainian forces seem like on the verge of constructing greater beneficial properties after a gradual begin of their counteroffensive in opposition to Russian forces in Ukraine’s south-east.

Zelenskyy stated that he had requested parliament to approve Reznikov’s substitute “this week”.

Though the final employees of Ukraine’s armed forces operates independently of the defence ministry in coordinating army technique and fight operations, the minister’s function is essential in procuring weaponry and mobilising troops. Zelenskyy, as president and commander-in-chief, in the end leads and bears accountability for each.

The shake-up additionally follows a collection of corruption allegations directed on the defence ministry, together with accusations from activists that it paid inflated costs for meals for the military and army jackets. Zelenskyy made no point out of the allegations in his announcement.

Reznikov, who served as a paratrooper within the Soviet army however turned a high-profile lawyer after which politician after Ukraine’s independence, was appointed months earlier than Russia’s full-scale invasion in February final yr.

He has denied accusations of graft, however a subordinate was fired early this yr following claims that eggs have been bought for the military at inflated costs.

Reznikov is predicted to be appointed as Ukraine’s new ambassador to the UK, based on native information studies citing officers.

Umerov, whose candidacy is predicted to be swiftly authorized in parliament, is an ethnic Crimean Tatar with roots within the Black Sea peninsula that Russia illegally annexed in 2014 and has used as a staging space for its full-blown invasion of Ukraine.

Umerov is fluent in English, crucial in a task demanding fixed communication with prime defence officers from western allies, together with the US and EU nations.

Umerov, who was a profitable businessman, has since September 2022 served as head of a state company that auctions off property to traders and manages government-owned factories and property.

As defence minister, Umerov can be anticipated to wash up the ministry whereas preserving the regular provide of western weaponry.

Zelenskyy additionally stated that he had spoken with France’s president Emmanuel Macron by phone on Sunday to debate “what new provides might help our warriors”, together with coaching in France for pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets being equipped by allies to Kyiv.

It was not instantly clear if Ukraine was additionally searching for to safe French fighter jets, on condition that France’s fleet doesn’t embody F-16s.

“There’s a crucial settlement on coaching our pilots in France. Our coalition of contemporary fighters is getting extra highly effective,” Zelenskyy stated.

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