Date: 14 February 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Ukraine’s Reznikov Not to Be Dismissed Despite Rumors

Another head would allegedly roll in Ukraine’s government purge amid recent corruption scandals. Rumors of a possible Reznikov resignation appeared on February 5. For the defense minister, there was reputational damage in relation to the inflated catering contracts.

SOURCE: president.gov.ua

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov is being replaced by General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, the Ukrainska Pravda news website reported on Sunday, February 5. Reznikov would be transferred to another post of minister. Rumors of a possible Reznikov resignation or ouster have mounted after a series of accusations of corruption within the ministry, also amid government procurement of military catering services. Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, resigned sometime earlier and was detained shortly after. It was yet not enough for the president as he sought to show the West he is taking a hard line on corruption scandals, hence Reznikov’s alleged decision to resign. David Arakhamia, the leader of the Servant of the People faction in parliament, said on February 5 that Reznikov would be relieved from his duties. Reznikov first declined any comment, but a day later he said he had not had any conversations about his resignation from this position. He denied any plans to be transferred to the post of minister for strategic industries to strengthen military-industrial cooperation. In a news conference hours earlier, Reznikov said he was not planning to take up a new job anyway. However, on Monday, February 6, Arakhamia seemed to row back somewhat, and claimed no reshuffle in the defense ministry was planned for this week. In an interview with Ukrainska Pravda, Reznikov reportedly denied any knowledge of an imminent dismissal. Why this confusion about the defense minister? At least some of Zelensky’s team actually wanted to dismiss Reznikov. Was that something more than just an effort to punish him for any alleged wrongdoings? Yet no shake-up took place eventually. The whole idea somewhat went overboard. Budanov was not happy to become defense minister. After all, he performs well as the chief of Ukraine’s military intelligence. In addition, Budanov hails from a military background while Ukraine should stick to principles bringing it closer to NATO, including on the issue of appointing a civilian defense minister. As a wartime defense minister, Reznikov played an important role in the campaigning for and securing of Western military aid that has proved vital to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia – thus any shake-up in the Ukrainian defense ministry might raise concerns in the West. It is what the Ukrainian defense minister is now tasked with. Budanov has been an experienced intelligence officer, and not a bureaucrat or a politician.

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