Kirill Solod
The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies

Ukrainian Solitaire. Replacing Minister of Defense

Today, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky confirmed that he has decided to dismiss current Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov, and his place should be taken by the head of the State Property Fund, Rustem Umerov.

According to the Constitution, the Minister of Defense is appointed by the Verkhovna Rada on the proposal of the President of Ukraine. This week the parliament will be asked to make this decision. There should be no problems with approval – in general, in behind-the-scenes conversations, all factions support Umerov’s candidacy.

Thus, Valerii Zaluzhnyi the four-star general Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will continue to deal with military strategy. The new Minister of Defense will focus on providing the army with everything it needs. Previous experience played an important role in this appointment – Rustem Umerov has been heading the State Property Fund since September 2022. During this time, he was able to prove himself effective in terms of managing budget funds (at least, in the position of head of the State Property Fund, there was not a single scandal with Umerov’s participation).

According to experts, Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov lost the pace necessary to conduct military operations (according to Zelensky, “the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society”) and was not able to apply a selective approach while communicating with foreign colleagues (heads of countries and ministers of defense). In addition, as part of the widespread fight against corruption, which was personally led by President Zelensky, a number of questions periodically arose from the Ukrainian enforcement officials to the Ministry of Defense. Against this background, American colleagues apparently recommended to make a change in the leadership of the ministry, calling into question further expansion of American assistance.

In turn, Mr. Reznikov will politically retire by being appointed as Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK.

The appointment of Rustem Umerov, apparently, will strengthen the Ukrainian emphasis on the Crimean direction. This hypothesis is supported by the Crimean Tatar origin of the new Minister of Defense, and the influence of the Crimean Tatars on the Crimean Peninsula. Before entering politics, Mr. Umerov was an adviser to the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev. Apparently, in addition to external military influence Ukrainian Ministry of Defense will focus on strengthening anti-Russian sentiments among the Crimean Tatars and on the entire Crimean Peninsula.

About the Author
Political advisor. Research analyst. Government Relations, International Affairs, Political Sociology. Head of The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies and managing partner of the Institute of Political Consulting LS GROUP. Former consultant to M. Gorbachev on public relations. Former head of NGOs in Russia. MBA, Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, 2010). Repatriated to Israel in 2017.
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