Oleksii Reznikov will be sacked as Ukraine’s defense minister in the coming days over several cases of corruption in government contracts for the army that have been uncovered over the past two weeks. This was announced by David Arakhamia, chairman of the Servant of the People faction, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, on Sunday evening. Reznikov hours earlier in Kyiv gave a press conference that already sounded like a farewell, in which he admitted that Zelenskiy would decide his future in the coming days. Reznikov, who has taken stock of his year in office, ended the lengthy media appearance by assuring that he would leave the Defense Department alone and that the level of stress he experienced during the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “difficult to describe is “.
Reznikov’s appearance was a Ukrainian media interrogation of his ministry’s three senior officials, who were fired for being involved in multiple alleged corruption cases. You are Viacheslav Shapovalov, now a former Deputy Minister; Volodimir Tereshenko, former Deputy Director for International Recruitment; and Bogdan Kmelnitski, former deputy director of supply. The two contracts that have brought down Reznikov, one of the most important names in government so far, are a tender to buy protective equipment for the troops and a €360 million award of food for the soldiers at good above-market prices . The public prosecutor’s office for combating corruption is investigating them for alleged misappropriation of public funds.
Reznikov is not accused of any wrongdoing but admitted he was ultimately responsible for his team. He assured that they had strengthened the defense ministry’s internal anti-corruption office and that the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, would set up a committee to investigate possible fraud in the provision of international military aid. Reznikov added that the government will propose legislative reform to make military contracts more transparent, although he conceded that many of these documents are classified under martial law. The defense chief, who is still responsible, justified this by saying that at the beginning of the invasion last February, material deliveries for the Ukrainian armed forces had to be accelerated and that it was very difficult to comply with the allocation control systems.
Zelensky has not officially fired Reznikov, although he is expected to do so later this week. His successor will be the current head of Defense Ministry Intelligence, General Kirilo Budanov, one of the most popular and respected names in Ukrainian war society. The relief must be approved by the Rada. Zelenski fired 10 senior executive and regional government officials last January for alleged involvement in corruption cases, particularly allegations of bribery and client networks with businessmen who benefited from public administration.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office have in the past week carried out a wave of registrations in several cases of possible irregular actions among senior officials, from the tax service to state-owned companies and the Ministry of Defense itself. The fight against corruption in Ukraine, which always is still an endemic disease of the country coincides with support from the European Commission to speed up Ukraine’s accession process to the European Union. To this end, the Kyiv authorities have pledged to carry out deep improvements in the systems for monitoring political and business corruption.
New position for Reznikov
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Ever since Russia began invading Ukraine, Reznikov has been a key part of the government, particularly in negotiations for international military aid. His ability to work closely, praised by his peers, and knowledge of his country’s wartime needs will persuade Reznikov to assume another executive branch responsibility. According to Arakhamia, he will be Minister of Strategic Industries, a portfolio created in 2020. The spokesman for Zelenskyy’s faction wrote on his social media that Reznikov’s experience will be the key to coordinating Ukraine’s civilian industry with the military. In fact, the still-defense chief has spent a good chunk of his press appearances emphasizing the need to revive industrial arms production.
The defense minister said his major achievement during the war was to ensure that Ukraine received 155mm artillery from NATO in March and that ammunition supplies were secured. His main failure, he admitted, was the last meeting of defense ministers of Ukraine’s allied countries, held in Ramstein, Germany, in January. Reznikov said the “communication with partners” left a lot to be desired at the meeting and meant “a loss of reputation” for his ministry. This caused the deal to transfer the Leopard heavy tanks to be delayed too long, valuable time considering Russia is launching a multi-front offensive this February, Reznikov confirmed.
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