Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is expected to step down as part of a government reshuffle, according to senior Ukrainian lawmaker David Arakhamia.
Reznikov has faced mounting pressure in recent weeks over corruption scandals at the defense ministry, and Major General Kyrylo Budanov, a top intelligence official at the ministry, is expected to take over. Arakhamia explained that the change is due to the needs of war, saying “war dictates personnel policies” and “time and circumstances require strengthening and regrouping.”
The defense ministry has been under investigation by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau over allegations of military provision purchases, including food for troops, at inflated prices. Reznikov had recently announced an internal audit of the country’s armed forces procurement before news of his departure.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is ramping up its anti-corruption efforts as it tries to gain EU membership. Corruption is “an important dimension of the EU accession process,” said Ana Pisonero, a spokesperson for the European Commission. Ukrainian authorities recently conducted raids across the country, uncovering large sums of cash, luxury watches, and cars.
As the spring offensive looms, Ukrainian military leaders are bracing themselves for a tough fight. A recent report from CNN highlighted the difficulty of keeping supply lines open and the Ukrainian forces fully equipped on the front lines. The Russian annexation of the Luhansk region last autumn, illegal under international law, has also led to the seizure and burning of Ukrainian books in public and school libraries in the region. Russian-backed separatists have imposed pro-Russian rhetoric on the education system in occupied areas, putting pressure on educators to align their programs accordingly.