(HorizonPost.com) – Ukraine’s defense minister resigned on Monday in the wake of allegations of corruption, the Washington Post reported.
On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he was asking parliament to approve the nomination of Rustem Umerov to replace Defense Minister Oleskii Reznikov.
While Reznikov has not been charged in ongoing corruption investigations, the defense minister has faced several high-profile allegations of graft.
Earlier this year, the defense ministry received blowback after allegedly purchasing food for soldiers at inflated prices. At the time, Ukrainian parliament member David Arakhamia incorrectly announced that Reznikov would be removed.
In August, Ukraine media outlets suggested that the defense ministry engaged in a corruption scheme in the purchase of military jackets, an allegation Reznikov denied.
Reznikov told the Washington Post in a statement that he was working to root out corruption and claimed that under his tenure, the defense ministry had greater oversight. He insisted that his resignation was not prompted by the corruption allegations, saying Zelensky chose to replace him “for other reasons.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that Reznikov’s removal highlights a key challenge to Zelensky’s leadership, specifically clamping down on the country’s widespread corruption.
While official corruption remained a taboo subject during the first year of the war as the government needed Ukrainians to rally together in the fight for survival, Zelensky’s announcement to replace Reznikov brought the issue to the forefront.
Daria Kaleniuk of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine told the New York Times that the central question is, “Where is the money?” She said government corruption in wartime can kill, explaining that the safeguards in place to protect public funds will determine whether soldiers have weapons or not.
Last week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with three Ukrainian officials to discuss efforts to clamp down on wartime corruption.
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