President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that he was replacing his minister of defense, in the biggest shake-up in Ukraine’s government since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February last year.
The fate of the defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, had been the subject of increasing speculation in Ukraine as financial improprieties in the ministry have come to light and the government had started several investigations into official corruption.
Mr. Zelensky said in a statement that he would replace Mr. Reznikov, who has not been personally implicated in the widening investigations into mishandling of military contracts, with Rustem Umerov, the chairman of Ukraine’s State Property Fund. Mr. Zelensky said he expected Ukraine’s Parliament, which must approve the change, to sign off on his request.
“Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement announcing his decision on Sunday night. “I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large.”
Mr. Reznikov had won praise for negotiating the transfer of vast quantities of donated Western weaponry under the Ramstein format talks with allies, named for the city in Germany where they began last year. He oversaw the expansion of the army and its transition from an arsenal of Soviet-legacy armaments to Western systems during the war.
He was among a handful of Mr. Zelensky’s top security officials who remained in Kyiv, the capital, as it was partly surrounded by Russian forces after the full-scale invasion and went on to become a public face for Ukraine on the world stage.
This is a developing story and will be updated.