Ukraine to replace Defense Minister – lawmaker

Alexey Reznikov is expected to be reassigned following a corruption scandal within the military

Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov will be relieved of his duties and instead appointed minister for strategic industries, according to David Arakhamia, who heads the parliamentary faction of President Vladimir Zelensky’s political party. The planned reshuffle follows multiple corruption scandals and resignations by other officials, including Reznikov’s deputy.

The chief of the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR), Kirill Budanov, “will head the defense ministry, which is absolutely logical in wartime,” Arakhamia announced in a Telegram post on Sunday night.

The head of the ruling parliamentary faction did not offer a timeline, but according to RBC-Ukraine news agency’s sources, the parliament is expected to finalize the reshuffle during the next session.

Asked about his rumored dismissal on Sunday, Reznikov said that it was up to President Zelensky to decide his fate, but he was “ready for anything” and his conscience was “absolutely clear.”

Multiple senior Ukrainian officials have resigned or have been fired in recent weeks, with an alleged graft scandal affecting the Defense Ministry as well. According to a Ukrainian media investigation published last month, various foodstuffs for the military ended up costing several times more than average retail prices. 

Reznikov has rejected the allegations, stating that the documents cited in the investigation were inaccurate and some prices ended up inflated due to a “technical error.” However, deputy defense minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of logistics, nevertheless took the fall and was dismissed on January 24.

The situation also threatened Reznikov, one of the most prominent faces in the Ukrainian defense apparatus, but the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine decided to keep him in office at the time.

Arakhamia claimed on Sunday that Reznikov is the most “logical” candidate to head the Ministry of Strategic Industries, given his “expertise” in securing Western military aid at Ramstein meetings and directing the endless flow of weaponry for the Ukrainian army.

Reznikov, however, said had to be some kind of “mistake”as he heard nothing about the alleged new appointment, and would reject the offer even if it came from the president himself, arguing he is not qualified for the job, according to ICTV Facts. 

Kiev’s top military intelligence official, Budanov, tapped to become the new defense chief, is best known for his repeated veiled threats of more strikes and terrorist attacks deeper in the Russian territory, while refusing to neither confirm nor deny Ukraine’s responsibility for previous strikes inside Russia. Back in October, Russia’s FSB security service called Budanov a suspected mastermind behind the car bombing attack on the Crimea Bridge, which killed three people.

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