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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Zelenskyy picks politician as Ukraine’s new defense minister 18 months into Russia’s invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Sunday that he has decided to replace Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov with politician Rustem Umyerov.

Reznikov “went through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction both with the military and with society as a whole,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.

Zelenskyy said that he expects Ukraine’s parliament to approve the decision this week, given the voting body’s familiarity with Umyerov. He did not elaborate upon his reasons for the replacement.

The decision came less than a month after Zelenskyy fired officials in charge of military conscription across each region of the country, citing corruption allegations that he said could amount to treason.

“This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery at a time of war is high treason,” he wrote on social media at the time.

Reznikov was appointed defense minister in late 2021, a few months before Russia launched its invasion of the country. Ukrainians initially criticized their government leaders for not warning the public that the invasion was imminent.

Reznikov told CBS News earlier this year that it wasn’t an oversight, but a defense strategy.

“We were prepared. But we tried to stop the panic in our streets,” he said.

Zelenskyy ended Sunday’s announcement on an optimistic note. “Autumn is a time to strengthen,” he wrote. “Glory to Ukraine!”

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