Ukraine Replaces Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov As Counteroffensive Struggles

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov speaks to the media on April 21, 2023 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. He resigned September 3, 2023 after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's announcement of his replacement. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Sunday that he would replace Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov.

“I have decided to replace the Minister of Defence of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a video address posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Oleksii 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.”

Reznikov, who helped transform the Ukrainian military in preparation for NATO membership, shared his resignation letter on X. “It was an honor to serve the Ukrainian people and work for the [Ukrainian army] for the last 22 months, the toughest period of Ukraine’s modern history,” he wrote.

The Ukrainian military suffered a series of corruption scandals during Reznikov’s tenure, although the minister was not implicated, several reports noted. The scandals involved reports of over-invoicing for military goods and equipment and allegations of bribery of regional recruitment officers by draft dodgers, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported. Reznikov’s deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, resigned and was arrested, the Kyiv Independent reported.  Zelenskyy fired the regional officers, labeling the bribery “high treason,” per the BBC. (RELATED: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Hasn’t Gone As Well As Expected. Here’s Why)

Rustem Umerov, the 41-year-old head of Ukraine’s main privatization fund and top prisoner exchange negotiator with Russia, will replace Reznikov, who is reportedly considering other positions in the Zelenskyy government, according to the BBC.

“Autumn is a time for strengthening,” Zelenskyy said, appearing to acknowledge Ukraine’s struggles in its ongoing counteroffensive against Russia. Ukraine has made minimal gains and sustained heavy losses. The attack has been bogged down by a shortage of soldiers, aerial support, and weaponry, as well as difficult weather conditions, the Associated Press (AP) noted.

Russia maintains the counteroffensive had failed, per the AFP.