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Friday, September 29, 2023

Ukrainian MPs approve new defense minister

President Zelensky had announced cabinet reshuffle last Sunday

Ukrainian MPs voted on Wednesday to confirm Rustem Umerov as the new defense minister. President Vladimir Zelensky announced his candidacy in the past week, while also declaring he wanted then-head of the department, Aleksey Reznikov, to step down.

The country’s lawmakers supported the nominee overwhelmingly, with no votes cast against Umerov and a single abstention, according to Ukrainian media.

Several corruption scandals rocked the Defense Ministry under Reznikov’s leadership, though the man himself until last week had defied multiple predictions of imminent sacking.


Umerov, who is 41 and a businessman, and who previously headed the State Property Fund, was perceived by domestic media as a safe pick for Zelensky, as the president seeks to convince Kiev’s foreign sponsors –and the Ukrainian public– that his pledges to eradicate graft by officials are sincere.

Kiev’s replacement of minister of defense came just as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived there on Wednesday for a two-day visit. It is the first such trip to Ukraine by a US official of this seniority since Kiev launched its counteroffensive against Russia in early June.

Ahead of his meetings with senior Ukrainian officials, Blinken praised progress made so far and pledged long-term support for Kiev. But Western media reports, citing insiders in the US government, said Washington was frustrated with the way the Ukrainian leadership was conducting the operation.

Earlier this week, the Russian military updated its estimate of the price paid by the Ukrainian army in its assaults. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Kiev had lost over 66,000 soldiers and more than 7,600 units of heavy weaponry trying to breach Russian defensive lines.



September 06, 2023 at 04:19PM


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