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Ukraine to replace defense minister in wartime reshuffle – top lawmaker

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By Tom Balmforth

KIEV (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Ukraine will replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov with the head of its military intelligence agency, a close ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday, in a frontline reshuffle of Ukraine’s war campaign.

Rezhnikov was reportedly transferred to another ministerial post and replaced by Kyrylo Budanov, head of the GUR military intelligence agency, said David Arakhamia, a senior lawmaker and head of the Servant of the People parliamentary bloc.

“The war forces changes in personnel policy,” Arakhamia said on messaging app Telegram.

He said Ukraine’s “force” agencies – such as the defense ministry – should not be led by politicians during the war, but by people with defense or security backgrounds.

There were no immediate comments from Reznikov, a former lawyer who became defense minister in November 2021, just months before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.

Arakhamia did not say when the move will be formalized.

The imminent jolt was also reported by several Ukrainian media citing sources and by another lawmaker, Yaroslav Zheleznyak, who writes on Telegram.

Budanov, 37, is an enigmatic intelligence officer decorated for his role in covert operations who quickly rose through the ranks to head Ukraine’s main intelligence directorate.

Arakhamia said Reznikov would be appointed minister of strategic industries.

His departure from the defense ministry would be the most high-profile cabinet change in a series of resignations and sackings following a corruption scandal late last month.

The quake coincides with Ukrainian fears that Russia is planning a new major offensive this month. Ukraine is planning its own counteroffensive but is waiting for Western supplies of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.


Asked earlier at a news conference about media reports about his possible exit from the ministry, Reznikov told reporters any decision was up to Zelenskiy.

As wartime defense minister, Reznikov, 56, fostered ties with Western defense officials and helped oversee the receipt of billions of dollars in military aid to help Kiev repel a Russian invasion.

Reznikov identified Ukraine’s “de facto” integration into the NATO military alliance as a top priority, even if de jure joining the bloc was not immediately possible.

During his tenure as defense minister, he spoke forcefully about wartime corruption, which he said was akin to “marauder”.

But in recent weeks, his own defense ministry has been embroiled in a corruption scandal over an army food contract that involved the payment of grossly inflated prices. It caused a public outcry.

One of his deputy ministers was sacked and two other senior officials have since also left their posts.

The scandal prompted Zelenskiy to embark on a major reshuffle that saw the departure of a host of regional governors, deputy ministers and other officials.

Reznikov hosted a news conference Sunday afternoon, in which he said Ukraine expected a possible major Russian offensive this month, but that Kiev had the resources at hand to hold it off.

He also said his ministry’s anti-corruption department needed an overhaul and that it hadn’t done what it should have done.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Tom Balmforth; editing by Grant McCool)