Rustem Umerov UKraine
Rustem Umerov, head of the country's main privatisation fund, attends a meeting in the president's office, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 16, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Kyiv: Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Monday he had submitted his resignation letter to the chairman of parliament, in the biggest shakeup of the defence establishment since Russia attacked in February 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced late on Sunday he had decided to replace his wartime defence minister and proposed Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar who heads the State Property Fund, as his replacement.

In his resignation letter, Reznikov provided an overview of his 22 months in the post, praising Ukraine’s fierce wartime resistance against Russian forces and his ministry’s lobbying efforts to secure vital military aid from the West.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov
Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov shows his resignation letter addressed to Parliament Speaker, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a parliament building in Kyiv, Ukraine September 4, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

“Over 50% of the temporarily occupied territories by Russia have already been liberated. Every day our defenders are moving forward,” he said in the letter posted on X, formally known as Twitter.

“There is an understanding that Ukraine is a shield of Europe in the east.” Reznikov, who has been tipped as Ukraine’s possible next ambassador to London, said he saw one of Kyiv’s key priorities as building long-term partnerships with key allies and securing “real security guarantees”.

Reznikov’s ministry has faced wartime scandals over the procurement of food and clothing, as well as allegations from some military aid NGOs that bureaucratic red tape has not been cut quickly enough. Reznikov denies wrongdoing.

He said in his resignation letter that defence procurement and purchase processes had been reformed during his tenure, and that he had fulfilled all the tasks which had been set for him when he was appointed 22 months ago.