Ukraine Defense Minister’s Future in Doubt Over Corruption

Ukraine Defense Minister’s Future in Doubt Over Corruption

31 Aug 2023 ( KyivPost )

Oleksiy Reznikov finds himself in a precarious position for the second time this year, this time in the wake of a scandal involving the purchase of military jackets from Turkey.

Ukraine’s defense minister could be replaced and given a new role as ambassador to the UKKyiv Post has been told.

Oleksiy Reznikov’s political future is once again in doubt, this time in the wake of a scandal involving the purchase of winter jackets for the military.

According to Kyiv Post sources in the Office of the President, Rustem Umerov – currently head of the State Property Fund – is a candidate to replace Reznikov as defense minister, but any decision “is not finalized.”

Rumors have also circulated among Ukrainian politicians.

People’s Deputy Yaroslav Zheleznyak, wrote a morning post on Telegram Thursday, Aug. 31 “…Rustem Umerov will be nominated for the position of Minister of Defense.” 

Zheleznyak said that Umerov had been in office for a year “without any scandal.” 

Kyiv Post has contacted Umerov’s press service for a comment, but at the time of writing had not received a response.

Reznikov’s press secretary said that the final decision rests with the president. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet commented on Reznikov’s appointment as ambassador to Britain. 

According to Ukrainian law, the Minister of Defense is appointed by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, at the request of the President. 

On Monday, Aug. 28, Reznikov himself hinted at a change in position, telling a press conference that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has several projects in which he would like to involve Reznikov. 

“They are in favor of Ukraine, in favor of increasing our defense capability with you, and most importantly – in favor of the future security architecture that is important for us,” he said.

This is not the first time the dismissal of the minister of defense has been discussed. In February of this year, after a corruption scandal regarding the procurement of food for the Ukrainian army, there were also talks about his resignation.

At that time, one of the candidates was the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov.

The latest scandal was exposed by Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Nikolov who, citing sources at the State Customs Service of Ukraine, reported that the Ministry of Defense had acquired 233,000 winter jackets for $20 million from a Turkish firm.

Documentation from customs regarding one shipment unveiled a startling increase in cost for a batch of 4,900 jackets en route from Turkey to Ukraine.

The price had tripled, soaring from $142,000 to $421,000 (a per-unit rise from $29 to $86). Furthermore, it was revealed that the jackets, despite being marketed as winter wear, turned out to be lightweight.