On Monday, September 4, 2023, Oleksii Reznikov submitted his resignation as Ukraine’s Defence Minister to parliament.
This came a day after President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy removed him from his post.
In his nightly address on Sunday, Septmber 3, 2023, Zelenskyy said, “I have decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.”
“Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large.”Volodymyr Zelenskyy
The Ukrainian President named Rustem Umerov as Reznikov’s replacement, adding that the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine “knows this person well.”
Zelenskyy stated that he expected parliament to support Umerov, adding that Umerov “does not need any additional introduction.”
In a statement, Reznikov, thanked the Ukrainian parliament “for the trust, support, and the opportunity to serve my country at such a crucial moment.”
“One of the main priorities at the moment is to rebuild a long-term partnership with key allies to provide Ukraine with real security guarantees and defense capabilities,” he added.
Reznikov disclosed in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter that he had written to the Chair of Ukraine’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, confirming his resignation.
“It was an honor to serve the Ukrainian people and work for the #UAarmy for the last 22 months, the toughest period of Ukraine’s modern history,” Reznikov noted.
He added that Ukraine had liberated “over 50%” of its territory temporarily occupied by Russia, and stated, “Every day our defenders are moving forward.”
In his resignation letter, Reznikov provided an overview of his 22 months in the post, lauding Ukraine’s fierce resistance against Russian forces and his ministry’s lobbying efforts to secure vital military aid from the west.
“There is an understanding that Ukraine is a shield of Europe in the east,” he noted.
Reznikov’s resignation comes at a time where the defense ministry has been hit with corruption scandals. Reznikov himself has not been accused of any corrupt activities.
Zelenskyy has launched an anti-corruption drive in his administration, especially in the military sphere. Last month, he fired the Heads of regional military recruitment centres who allegedly took bribes from men seeking to avoid being sent to the frontline.
Reznikov’s Resignation Not A Surprise
Adviser to Ukraine’s defence ministry, Yuriy Sak opined that Reznikov’s departure was not a surprise.
“We saw it coming. President is in charge. He thinks it is the right thing to do at this stage.”Yuriy Sak
Sak noted that Reznikov’s role in helping Ukraine defend itself cannot be overestimated.
He added, “Now his successor, Umerov will continue the reforms and transformation for which Reznikov laid the foundation.”
Sak told a news agency that Reznikov spearheaded the transformation of the ministry, laying the groundwork for future NATO membership.
Alluding to Reznikov’s successful lobbying of foreign governments for arms, Sak said, “His legacy is that he has convinced ministers of defence around the world that the impossible is possible.”
Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former Defence Minister, stressed that Reznikov had played a pivotal role in forging long-term partnerships with key foreign allies.
“He’s absolutely brilliant at building relationships, with Jens Stoltenberg [the NATO Secretary General], Lloyd Austin, and with Ben Wallace,” Zagorodnyuk said.
Umerov has headed Ukraine’s state property fund since September 2022 and played a role in sensitive wartime negotiations such as the Black Sea grain deal.
Umerov has been praised in Ukraine for his record at the property fund, which oversees the privatisation of state assets and had been embroiled in corruption scandals before he took charge.