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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky nominates new defense minister as parliament approves Reznikov’s resignation

by Daria Shulzhenko and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 5, 2023 11:38 PM 6 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and then-Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (L) during a bilateral meeting with the German Chancellor on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12, 2023. (Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Sept. 5:

  • Zelensky nominates Umerov as new defense minister; Ukraine’s parliament approves Reznikov's resignation
  • ISW: Ukrainian infantry advances closer to Verbove in Zaporizhzhia Oblast
  • Russia claims drones shot down over Kaluga, Moscow, Tver oblasts and occupied Crimea
  • Germany delivers ammunition for Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.

On Sept. 5, President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted a draft resolution to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, to appoint Rustem Umerov as the country’s new defense minister.

Zelensky’s decision came after the parliament had approved Oleksii Reznikov's resignation as defense minister earlier in the day.

The Ukrainian parliament is expected to consider the candidacy of Umerov — a Ukrainian politician and businessperson of Crimean Tatar origin who is also a former head of the State Property Fund — on Sept. 6.

Umerov also previously served as a member of parliament with the Holos party from 2019-2022.

Zelensky announced his decision to dismiss Reznikov on Sept. 3, saying that "the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction both with the military and with society as a whole."

Although Reznikov has held the position since 2021, playing an essential role in coordinating military aid from foreign allies, his tenure at the Defense Ministry has been marred recently by several scandals related to procuring equipment and supplies for Ukrainian soldiers.

In August, the Ukrainian media Dzerkalo Tyzhnia reported that the Defense Ministry spent $33 million on "winter" clothing for the military from a Turkish company in September, which was actually summer clothing.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia also uncovered that the documents accompanying the shipment had been manipulated. The price of some jackets worth around $29 was in another document reportedly "amended" to $86.

Also, in January, the Ukrainian media discovered a major issue with food supply procurement for the soldiers: The Nashi Groshi investigative project found that the defense ministry had purchased eggs at Hr 17 ($0.5) each while in Kyiv’s grocery stores the price was around Hr 7 ($0.2) per egg.

Reznikov submitted his resignation to the Ukrainian parliament on Sept. 4.

On Sept. 5, the executive body representing Crimean Tatars — The Mejlis — called on the Verkhovna Rada to approve Umerov’s candidacy.

“All the stages and successful results of Rustem Umerov’s professional and political activity, his human qualities, and the principles shared by him allow us to express our support for the proposal of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and call on the deputies to decide on the appointment of Umerov as defense minister,” Refat Chubarov, the chairman of the Mejlis, wrote on Facebook.

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When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Sept. 3 that Rustem Umerov was Ukraine’s soon-to-be defense minister, he said the former MP “needs no introduction.” Days before, Umerov had been rumored to be the main candidate to replace Oleksiy Reznikov, who had held the post since Novemb…

ISW: Ukrainian forces advance closer to Verbove in Zaporizhzhia Oblast

Ukraine's infantry has advanced to positions closer to Verbove, a village southeast of the strategic front-line city of Orikhiv, bypassing anti-tank ditches and obstacles, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report.

According to it, another Ukrainian infantry group advanced toward Russian defensive positions between the recently liberated Robotyne, located 10 kilometers south of Orikhiv, and Novoprokopivka, around 13 kilometers south of Orikhiv.

The ISW said Ukrainian forces are "widening the breach they have already made into one of Russia's defensive layers, maneuvering more equipment and personnel into the tactical rear."

Ukraine is also making gains near the “not-yet-breached” Russian defensive layer that runs from northwest of Verbove to the north of Solodka Balka, located 20 kilometers south of Orikhiv, with infantry assaults and heavy artillery fire on Russian positions, according to the report.

Ukrainian forces intend to hold these positions, the ISW said, adding that it's too early to tell whether they have breached Russian defenses in the area.

On Sept. 4, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukraine’s military had made gains near Klishchiivka, some five kilometers from Bakhmut, and Novoprokopivka south of Robotyne.

Ukrainian forces have liberated three square kilometers around Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, over the past week, Maliar said.

According to her, Ukraine has regained 47 square kilometers of land in this area since the start of the summer counteroffensive.

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Russia claims drones shot down over Kaluga, Moscow, Tver oblasts and occupied Crimea

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed drones were shot down over the Moscow, Kaluga, and Tver oblasts, as well as occupied Crimea on Sept. 5.

At around 4 a.m. Moscow time, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed two drones were shot down over the Russian Moscow and Kaluga oblasts.

Following the reports, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin claimed the drones were "trying to carry out an attack against Moscow."

Although Sobyanin initially claimed no destruction and casualties, he later wrote on Telegram that the drone debris damaged a household facility in Istrinsky District in Moscow Oblast.

At around 5 a.m. Moscow time, the Defense Ministry claimed another drone was intercepted over Tver Oblast.

Another drone was downed over the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula later in the morning, claimed the Russian Defense Ministry.

It did not provide details of the attacks but blamed Ukraine for launching the drones.  

Ukraine has not commented on the allegations.

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Russian media outlet The Moscow Times reported later in the day that drones were shot down over Russia's Tver Oblast, near the town of Zavidovo, where Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly has a residence.

The media also claimed that the wreckage from drones downed over Moscow Oblast fell on a garage containing gas cylinders in Pavlovskaya Sloboda, resulting in multiple explosions.

Isolated drone attacks have intensified within Russian soil in the past months.

These attacks appear to primarily focus on disrupting the infrastructure that supports the logistics of the Russian military. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for most of these attacks.

Germany delivers ammunition for Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine

The first batch of Germany-provided ammunition for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns has already arrived in Ukraine, Germany's Ministry of Defense reported on Sept. 5.

Although the deliveries used to come from Switzerland, following the country’s repeated refusal to support Ukraine with weapons, Germany's Defense Ministry signed a 168 million euro contract to deliver 300,000 rounds with arms manufacturer Rheinmetall in February.

"Despite this complex process, it has been possible to deliver the first ammunition to the Ukraine after almost seven months since the contract was signed. With this delivery of ammunition, Germany is showing once again that all possibilities are being used and exhausted," reads the ministry’s announcement.

According to it, Germany has delivered 46 Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine, and another six are coming.

Two types of ammunition are being delivered to Ukraine for this weapon system: 150,000 rounds of armor-piercing sub-caliber ammunition and 150,000 shots of explosive incendiary ammunition used to fight air targets such as airplanes or guided missiles.

The Gepards have helped Ukraine defend itself against Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones targeting Ukrainian cities and their critical infrastructure, the German Embassy in Ukraine said last November.

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