KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's defence minister said on Tuesday that no decision had been taken for now to remove two of Kyiv's senior military commanders following media reports that they could be sacked.
The comment by Rustem Umerov at a news conference was the strongest hint yet that Kyiv was considering the possibility of firing Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Nayev and Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, chief of the "Tavria" military command.
"I must say that a decision has not yet been made, but that we are doing everything possible to improve efficiency. If this happens, we will communicate it very openly," he told reporters when asked to comment on reports commanders could be fired.
Any such move, he said, could also be related to issues that had been raised before his appointment in September when he replaced Oleksii Reznikov as minister, he said. The defence ministry has previously dismissed reports about a possible looming shakeup.
Tarnavskyi oversees the Tavria military command which spearheaded Ukraine's much-vaunted counteroffensive in the southeast, but failed to force a significant breakthrough in the face of heavily-defended Russian lines.
Umerov's comments come amid a cooling of relations between Zelenskiy and commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who this month likened the state of the war with Russia to a stalemate from World War One, an assessment later rejected by Zelenskiy.
Umerov's comments on Tuesday came at a news conference in Kyiv with his German counterpart. At the event, he told reporters he was focused on the military adopting NATO standards and delivering the needs of the military in his role.
"These standards are very important... Every unit and every commander knows these needs and we must meet them," he said.
(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; editing by Tom Balmforth, Alexandra Hudson)