The Macomb Daily

Ukraine’s defense minister to be replaced, top parliament­arian says

- By Justine McDaniel, Kyle Rempfer and Isabelle Khurshudya­n

A shake-up of Ukraine’s top ministeria­l positions that will replace the country’s defense minister is coming, a close adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky signaled Sunday, as a midwinter surge in fighting and a possible Russian offensive loom.

Ukraine’s current military intelligen­ce chief, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, is slated to replace Oleksii Reznikov as defense minister, David Arakhamia, leader of Zelensky’s party in parliament and a close ally to the president, said on his Telegram channel.

On Monday morning, however, Arakhamia posted another message on Telegram saying no change would take place this week.

“We are waiting for the appointmen­t of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine,” he wrote. “Personnel changes in the field of defense will not take place this week.”

Zelensky dismissed Ivan Bakanov, the head of the security service, or SBU, in July and the agency has been led by an acting chief since then, while the interior minister, Denis Monastyrsk­y, was killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Budanov is known for having correctly predicted Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine when most officials thought any Russian incursions would be much smaller in scope. He carries influence with Zelensky and other officials. Reznikov, a politician who became defense minister in November 2021, will be named minister for strategic industries to strengthen military-industrial cooperatio­n, Arakhamia said, calling the moves “absolutely logical for wartime.” The 37-yearold Budanov, whose résumé includes special operations and dodging assassinat­ion attempts, has risen quickly through the ranks to become one of Ukraine’s youngest generals.

“War dictates personnel policy. Time and circumstan­ces call for strengthen­ing and regrouping. This is happening now and will continue to happen in the future,” Arakhamia said on Telegram, writing in Ukrainian.

Such decisions come from the president, but members of parliament have to vote on the proposed changes. The shakeup comes amid a wider crackdown on corruption in Ukraine that has included other dismissals and investigat­ions.

The Defense Ministry had been under scrutiny for misappropr­iation of funds after Ukrainian journalist­s reported that the military had paid inflated prices for food.

Reznikov was not implicated, and aid from Western countries was not involved, but with ministeria­l changes, Zelensky is attempting to reassure the United States and other allies that their aid won’t be mishandled. The defense minister plays a key role in negotiatin­g with other countries for aid, including weapons.

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