| 18 June 2024, Tuesday |

Ukraine’s defense ministry in turmoil as Russia readies offensive

On Monday, Ukraine delivered conflicting signals over the fate of its defense minister, casting doubt on a crucial position in its war effort even as it prepares for a fresh Russian offensive.

The unanswered concerns surrounding Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, were the first obvious indication of major disintegration in the country’s wartime leadership, which had up until this point miraculously maintained its unity though almost a year of ferocious Russian military assault.

A day after announcing that Reznikov would be sidelined, a top ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appeared to row back for now, saying no personnel changes in the defence sector would be made this week.

David Arakhamia, chief of the parliamentary bloc of Zelenskiy’s party, had said the head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, would take over the defence ministry, while Reznikov would be made minister of strategic industries.

But Zelenskiy remained silent on the issue, while Reznikov said on Sunday he had not been informed of any move and would reject the strategic industry job if offered it.

The confusion caps a two-week crackdown on alleged official wrongdoing in Ukraine that has led to the biggest shakeup since Russia’s invasion.

Central and regional officials were fired or quit, security forces raided a billionaire’s home and investigations were launched into suspected fraud at the main oil company and refinery. The Defence Ministry was caught up in accusations it contracted to overpay for food, although Reznikov was not personally accused of any wrongdoing.

According to Zelenskiy, the moves are meant to demonstrate that Kyiv can safely manage billions of dollars in foreign aid. However, they run the risk of fracturing the political establishment that had united to oppose Russia’s incursion.

In the meantime, Russian forces have been making progress in the east in constant fights for the first time in six months. Moscow, according to a regional governor, is bringing in reinforcements in preparation for a new onslaught that may start as early as next week.

  • Reuters