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Defense Minister says he will step down if Zelensky orders his dismissal
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said during a briefing on Feb. 5 that he was ready to step down if President Volodymyr Zelenksy ordered his dismissal.
“No official is in the chair forever. Not one,” Reznikov said. “...I will do what the head of state suggests to me.”
The statement comes after Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported citing government and military sources, that Reznikov will likely be dismissed from his ministerial post next week.
According to the publication, the likely replacement for him is Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence.
A government source confirmed to the Kyiv Independent that Reznikov was likely to be replaced in the very near future.
Reznikov could be appointed Justice Minister upon dismissal, as “no one in the Presidential Office has any doubt” that Reznikov should stay in the government, according to the Ukrainska Pravda article.
According to the report, Justice Minister Denys Maliuska could be appointed as an ambassador to a Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Europe.
The report hasn’t provided information on who will head Ukraine’s military intelligence agency if Budanov is appointed as defense minister.
Reznikov, 56, has served as Defense Minister since Nov. 4, 2021, overseeing the ministry throughout the entirety of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.
During this time, Reznikov played an important role in campaigning for and securing Western military aid that has proved vital to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia.
In late January, the Defense Ministry was beset by a high-profile corruption scandal that led to the firing of several top officials.
Ukrainian newspaper ZN.UA reported on Jan. 21 that the Defense Ministry procured large amounts of food products for the military at inflated prices.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has since opened an investigation into the alleged scheme.
Reznikov’s deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, was dismissed from the Defense Ministry on Jan. 24.
On Jan. 31, Reznikov said that an audit of the army’s procurement process had been launched on June 29. Its initial results in December found that the procurement system was deficient.
When the ZN.UA article first broke, Reznikov denied any wrongdoing, saying that whoever leaked the procurement documents committed a crime.
A court arrested Shapovalov for 60 days on Feb. 2.