Zelensky appoints a new defense minister after a corruption scandal that shook the country


The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, David Arkhamia, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Servant of the People’s Party, said Sunday evening that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov will be replaced by the head of the country’s intelligence service.

Bloomberg reported that if confirmed, the overthrow would mean that Ukraine is making changes in defense ministers, at a time when the government in Kyiv and its allies say they expect another large-scale Russian attack soon, possibly on multiple fronts.

It’s up to the President of Ukraine to choose the defense and foreign ministers.

However, Zelensky’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Reznikov will be replaced by the head of the intelligence service, Kirillo Budanov, “as time and circumstances require reinforcement and regrouping of forces”, Arkhamia said on his Telegram channel late Sunday.

Earlier, Reznikov defended himself in the face of recent calls for his resignation due to corruption scandals involving his subordinates.

Reznikov said in a press briefing in the capital, Kyiv that he would only resign if President Volodymyr Zelensky asked him to do so.

He said, in statements reported by the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform, that “there is no official who remains in office forever”.

“According to the constitution, the decision on who becomes defense minister or not is taken by one person, who is the Commander-in-Chief and the President of Ukraine,” he added.

As a result, he added, he would follow in Zelensky’s footsteps before making certain decisions.

Reznikov has come under mounting criticism after a series of scandals in his ministry, including the resignation of his deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, over the purchase of expensive food for soldiers.

It was also reported that funds were embezzled during the construction of barracks by another sector of the ministry.

Reznikov denied the accusations, describing them as an attempt to “weaken confidence in the Ministry of Defense at a very critical time”.

Regarding media speculation about his resignation or dismissal, the minister said he would do everything possible to ensure Ukraine’s victory over the Russian forces that invaded the country in February 2022.

President Zelensky last month sacked at least 10 officials in a cabinet reshuffle, citing wrongdoing by civil servants amid the country’s efforts to counter the Russian invasion.

The sacking of officials followed criticism on social media of reports that some officials had traveled abroad to destinations including Spain for the New Year holidays.

In one case, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian border services was criticized for traveling to Paris while her colleagues were fighting Russian forces in trenches in eastern Ukraine.

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