Ukraine's outgoing Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomed his replacement and urged the West to “save this world from the catastrophe of World War III” in a farewell op-ed.
In the op-ed, which was published by The Guardian on Friday, Sept. 8, Reznikov – who was replaced as Ukraine’s defense minister earlier this week – welcomed new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, saying he’s a “competent and professional person capable of continuing the initiatives we have launched.”
“Together, you will accelerate the moment of Ukraine’s victory,” Reznikov said.
While heading the Defense Department there were allegations of corruption amongst some of those under Reznikov, but the outgoing defense minister said he was proud of his 671 days in office.
“For me, it accounts for a period of time during which more has happened to Ukraine than many countries go through in a century,” he said.
Among Reznikov’s accomplishments – he helped Western partners see the need to provide Ukraine with various defense systems, including Javelins, NLAWs and Stingers, M777 howitzers, the Patriot missile system and more recently, F-16 fighter jets.
But while thankful to Western partners, he was not without criticism.
Indecision on acting against the Kremlin when it invaded Georgia, annexed Crimea and Donbas, and carried out brutal actions in Syria, Libya and elsewhere resulted in Russia feeling invincible – ultimately leading to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Reznikov said.
Reznikov warned against appeasing Putin.
Recent calls for Ukraine to make territorial concessions in exchange for peace – such as those made by NATO’s Stian Jenssen – echoed how the allies had been fooled by Hitler’s 1938 demands on the Sudetenland in exchange for peace, he said.
“We know from history that this did not stop Hitler,” he said. “Putin’s actions follow a similar pattern.”
Giving up Ukraine would give Russia access to its natural resources. The Kremlin’s ambitions would only grow and lead to a new, bigger war, Reznikov said.
With respect to the deployment of Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, Reznikov called for an international strategy to minimize nuclear aggression.
It is also imperative that international tribunals be established without delay to investigate Russia's war crimes including the genocide of Ukrainians, he said.
Ukraine's victory would be a triumph of international law over the illegal behavior of a powerful country. It would demonstrate the inviolability of recognized borders in the face of military aggression and would signal that the free world is united against tyranny.
He concluded, “It was my honor to serve my country and work with you. Glory to Ukraine!"
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