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Ukraine’s defense minister to be replaced – as Zelenskyy believes “new approaches” are needed

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that he will replace his defense minister – marking the biggest political shock in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

In his evening video address to the nation, Ukraine’s president said he would sack Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and ask parliament this week to replace him with Rustem Umerov, head of the country’s main privatization fund.

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Mr Reznikov has been defense minister since November 2021 and has helped secure billions of dollars in western military aid for the war effort, but has been dogged by allegations of corruption surrounding his ministry, which he describes as libel.

Mr Umerov, a 41-year-old former MP of Crimean Tatar descent, has headed Ukraine’s State Property Fund since September 2022 and has been actively involved in sensitive war negotiations, including those related to the Black Sea Grains Agreement.

Sky’s international correspondent Alex Rossi said the move was “very significant”.

“It’s clear that President Zelenskyy is trying to reverse the narrative – which you’re hearing from some Western officials – that things aren’t going very well,” he said.

“How does Mr Reznikov’s sacking fit into this? Are we going to see a complete change in the way they go about things?”

“There have been significant corruption scandals, there are no charges against Mr Reznikov but of course he is the man in charge and there have been calls for his sacking.”

The decision comes amid a crackdown on corruption in Ukraine that Mr Zelenskyy was keen to highlight.

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“Everyone understands who is involved”

Kyiv has applied to join the European Union and the public has become extremely sensitive to corruption as the war rages on with no end in sight.

“I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and different formats of interaction both with the military and with society at large,” said Mr. Zelenskyj.

Mr. Reznikov, an English-speaking man, is believed to have developed close ties with Allied defense ministers and military officials. An MP has proposed him as a possible new ambassador for Ukraine in London.

In Ukraine, Mr Reznikov’s ministry has been accused of buying food at inflated prices.

The minor incident came as two people were hospitalized after a Russian drone attack on port infrastructure in Ukraine’s Odessa region, officials said.

The attack came a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss resuming food supplies from Ukraine under a Black Sea grain deal Moscow broke in July.

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Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, described the attack as part of a Russian action to “provoke a food crisis and world hunger”.

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Russian drones have hit the port of Odessa

Elsewhere, two people were killed and two others wounded in a Russian shelling Sunday on the village of Wuhledar in the Donetsk region.

Artillery fire hit eight settlements across the region, the National Police wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office also said on Sunday that it had opened a war crimes investigation into the death of a police officer who was killed by Russian shelling in the city of Seredyna-Buda on Saturday.

Two other police officers and a civilian were injured in the attack in Ukraine’s north-eastern Sumy region.

A Ukrainian commander had previously told the Guardian that after weeks of painstaking mine clearance, his troops had breached Russia’s first line of defense near Zaporizhia.

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