Zelensky to replace Ukraine’s wartime defense minister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Sunday that he would replace Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov with Rustem Umerov.

In a statement, Zelensky said he thinks the ministry “needs new approaches” and noted Reznikov had served in the position for 550 days of “full-scale war.” He also said he expects parliament to support Umerov.

“Oleksiy 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. Now Rustem Umerov should lead the Ministry,” Zelensky said in the Sunday statement.

“The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine knows this person well, and Mr. Umerov does not need any additional introductions. I expect the Parliament to support this candidate,” Zelensky continued.

The shakeup would be the largest in the ministry since the start of the war in early 2022. The Ministry of Defense has been plagued with accusations of mishandling military contracts, which have avoided Reznikov personally but reportedly have left many skeptical about Reznikov’s fate amid a crackdown on public corruption.

Umerov was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada to be chairman of Ukraine’s State Property Fund in September 2022. He was tasked to lead the processes of privatization and lease in the state, with a focus on transparency.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive earlier this summer, which had seen slower progress before picking up in recent weeks, raising hopes in the West of a breakthrough. Ukraine broke through major Russian defense lines in the southeastern region late last week, a significant step forward in the counteroffensive.

The counteroffensive is being waged on several fronts, and Russia has launched its own counteroffensive toward cities in the northeast, but troops face stiff resistance from Ukraine.

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