Ukraine is still planning to replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, though the issue of who will replace him has yet to be resolved, two parliamentarians have told Kyiv Post.
A final decision will be made after NATO defense chiefs meet in Brussels on Feb. 14, one source said, but there is still a debate about whether his successor should be a military officer or a civilian.
“Reznikov will be replaced,” they said. “It has been decided.
“The president’s office is undecided on (replacement) candidates. Opinions are divided – some officials say that in wartime, the post should be held by a military man, while others say it should be an effective manager.”
Lawmakers are currently working on a new bill that would allow a non-civilian to head the defense ministry, something that under current legislation is prohibited.
One of the names rumored to be Reznikov’s replacement is Kyrylo Budanov, the current head of the Main Intelligence Directorate, who is a military major general.
Reznikov, 56, is one of the best-known faces of the country’s war effort and has played a key role in securing much-needed weapons and support from Ukraine’s Western allies.
Questions over his future have been swirling for weeks. Although he has not been accused of any personal wrongdoing, the ministry which he has headed since November 2021 has recently been rocked by corruptions scandals.
His deputy was forced to resign in late January after the ministry was accused of signing food contracts at prices two to three times higher than current rates for basic foodstuffs.
On Feb. 5, senior lawmaker David Arakhamia said Reznikov would be moved from his current role and appointed minister for strategic industries.
But Arakhamia appeared to roll back the shock announcement the next day, saying the replacement would not take place this week, and a source told Kyiv Post that they didn’t think Reznikov would take up the position potentially on offer.
Reznikov himself said on Feb. 5 that he had not been offered a new role and would refuse it if he was.
The following day, President Zelensky urged Ukrainians to refrain from “spreading any rumors or other pseudo-information,” but confirmed that change was under way.
Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said that Reznikov’s replacement was postponed following a “rushed” announcement.
Since then there has been little news on developments until now.
Reznikov himself has previously said he will do everything in his power to assist his successor.
In response to a question from Kyiv Post during a press conference on Feb. 5 about his possible future role in helping bring this about, he added: “According to the decision of the President and with the support of the parliament, anyone who will be the Minister of Defense will receive my support, advice, consultations and personal introduction to those (international) ministers of defense with whom I have personal relations and communications, if desired.”
Earlier this month in exclusive comments to Kyiv Post, Reznikov said he would continue to fight for Ukraine “regardless of status or position.”
He added: “There are still planes on my wish list to Santa. I believe in the victory of Ukraine, and I will do everything for this.”
Reznikov did not respond to a Kyiv Post request for comment.
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