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Ukraine’s Defense Minister To Be Replaced Amid Contract Scandal

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov

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Despite being mixed up in corruption scandals last month involving the Ukrainian government, it does not appear that Oleksii Reznikov will lose his position as Ukraine’s Defense Minister this week, according to a statement from President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday. However, Ukraine’s ruling party, Servant of the People, issued a statement on Sunday indicating that Reznikov will be replaced as Defense Minister at some point.

Kyiv has been sending mixed signals regarding the removal of Reznikov with Zelensky stating that there will be no personnel changes within the defense ministry this week, while the ruling party’s statement declares that Reznikov is to be removed as Defense Minister, but will remain a part of Zelensky’s government.

According to the leader of Zelensky’s party in parliament, David Arakahmia’s Telegram channel, Reznikov is to be replaced as Defense Minister by current Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov. However, Arakahmia posted a second message to his Telegram channel on Monday saying, “We are waiting for the appointment of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine. Personnel changes in the field of defense will not take place this week.”

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Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry’s second top official, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, was forced to resign from his position as head of logistics in late January after it was discovered that he had been signing highly inflated food contracts and had been receiving kickbacks from the contracts.

It should also be noted that Shapovalov had a great deal of oversight regarding the billions of dollars in defense aid flowing in from the U.S. and Europe. While Shapovalov was busy lining the pockets of contractors, and most likely his own, with taxpayer dollars from foreign countries, Reznikov brushed off the corruption claims as a simple “technical mistake.”

Ukraine’s Western allies have been receptive to Reznikov throughout the war and he has also become very friendly with Western defense companies, going so far as to refer to Ukraine as a “testing ground” for weapons manufacturers. Reznikov has also led the recent Ukrainian push for fighter jets and he was instrumental in securing tanks from the West once approved by Washington and Berlin. Despite his involvement with the army food contract scandal, it appears that the removal of Reznikov from his post could hinder much-needed relations between Kyiv and its Western allies.

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