Ukraine to replace defence minister in wartime reshuffle

Oleksiy Reznikov will be appointed minister for strategic industries

Former Ukrainian defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov on February 5. AFP
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The chief of Ukraine's military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, is set to replace Oleksiy Reznikov as Defence Minister before an expected Russian offensive and after corruption scandals, a senior politician said Sunday.

"We are preparing decisions and negotiations that should strengthen our soldiers, give Ukraine more international support and more weapons," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address.

This week, Mr Zelenskyy has increased the country's fight against corruption after saying he wants talks on Ukraine's membership in the EU to begin this year.

A senior politician close to Mr Zelenskyy said later on Sunday that Mr Reznikov, 56, one of the best-known faces of the country's war effort, would be replaced.

"Kyrylo Budanov will head the Defence Ministry, which is absolutely logical in wartime," said politician David Arakhamia.

Holding the rank of Maj Gen, Mr Budanov, 37, has led military intelligence since August, 2020.

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Mr Reznikov will be appointed Minister for Strategic Industries, said Mr Arakhamia.

"War dictates personnel policies. Time and circumstances require reinforcement and regrouping," he said.

"The enemy is preparing to advance. We are preparing to defend ourselves."

Mr Reznikov was appointed defence minister in November 2021 and has helped to secure western weapons. But his ministry has been beset by corruption scandals.

Mr Reznikov's deputy was forced to resign in late January after the ministry was accused of signing food contracts at prices two to three times higher than current rates.

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Mr Reznikov did not say on Sunday if he planned to stay on at the ministry, but that only Mr Zelenskyy could decide his fate.

"The stress that I have endured this year is hard to measure precisely. I am not ashamed of anything," Mr Reznikov said. "My conscience is absolutely clear."

An internal audit of procurement procedures was under way at the Defence Ministry, he said.

What sending western tanks to Ukraine will mean - video

What sending western tanks to Ukraine will mean

What sending western tanks to Ukraine will mean

Mr Reznikov said the ministry's own anti-corruption department had "failed" to do its job and needed to be "completely rebooted".

With corruption a key European concern, Ukraine's government has increased work to clean up its act, launching high-profile raids this week against an oligarch with political connections, and a former interior minister.

Mr Reznikov also urged the West to send warplanes, after Germany and the US finally agreed to supply heavy tanks following weeks of deliberations.

"I am sure that we will win this war," Mr Reznikov said, but without western jets, "it will cost us more lives".

Updated: February 05, 2023, 11:47 PM