Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has made a big decision. He has fired his defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, because he thinks it’s time for some “new approaches” as the war with Russia continues for 19 months.
Zelensky wants the Ukrainian Parliament to agree with his decision. He has chosen Rustem Umerov, who used to be a member of Ukraine’s parliament, to be the new defense minister. Zelensky believes that Umerov is a well-known and suitable person for the job.
Umerov is currently in charge of the State Property Fund, which aims to bring investment to Ukraine. He has also been involved in negotiations to exchange prisoners of war. He worked on a project about grain in the Black Sea but was skeptical about Russia following the rules. Russia eventually left the project.
This change in leadership comes at a crucial time because Ukraine is trying to fight back in the south of the country. They want to get F-16 fighter planes and other equipment to help them in this fight.
Reznikov, the outgoing defense minister, offered his resignation after Zelensky’s decision. He posted his resignation letter on Facebook. He has been the defense minister since November 2021 and had other important roles in the government before that.
There have been many problems with corruption in Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense recently. Zelensky has already fired several high-ranking officials over a scandal related to buying supplies for the military. The deputy defense minister also resigned because of corruption allegations. In August, Zelensky removed all the officials in charge of military recruitment centers in the regions because of ongoing criminal investigations. Even though Reznikov was not directly involved in these scandals, they still hurt his reputation.
On top of all this, one of Ukraine’s most powerful businesspeople, Ihor Kolomoisky, who supported Zelensky, got arrested in a fraud investigation. Zelensky has been clear that getting rid of corruption in the government is crucial if Ukraine wants to join NATO and the European Union.
A report from 2021 by Transparency International ranked Ukraine as the second most corrupt country in Europe, right after Russia. Globally, Ukraine was 122nd out of 180 countries in terms of corruption.
Zelensky became popular because he promised to fight corruption when he became president in 2019. He used to be a comedian and had no political experience, but many people in Ukraine were tired of the corruption in the government.
Ukraine officially started the process to become a member of the European Union last year. But the European Union has made it clear that Ukraine needs to do more to fight corruption if it wants to become a full member.