Russian invasion: war against Ukraine: That's the situation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is dismissing his defense minister and wants to see the young politician Rustem Umerov in office in the middle of the counter-offensive.

Russian invasion: war against Ukraine: That's the situation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is dismissing his defense minister and wants to see the young politician Rustem Umerov in office in the middle of the counter-offensive. Zelenskyy announced yesterday in his evening video message that he would propose the 41-year-old head of the State Property Fund to parliament as the successor to the ousted Oleksiy Reznikov. Resnikov's departure had been expected for a long time.

The entrepreneur and investor Umerov, who is of Crimean Tatar descent, has been campaigning for years for the liberation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in violation of international law in 2014. As the new defense minister, he would have less influence on the course of the current counteroffensive; Zelensky, as commander in chief of the armed forces, and the generals have responsibility. Above all, Umerov would have to worry about financing the army and equipping it with weapons and ammunition as well as supplies.

Umerow is considered an expert in finance

Like many Crimean Tatars, Umerov's parents were deported from Crimea under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. According to the Ukrainian media, Umerov was a fellow of a US program for future leaders (FLEX) and is considered an expert in finance. After serving as a member of the Ukrainian parliament from 2019 to 2022, he was appointed head of state asset management a year ago.

The politician is also deputy chairman of the Crimea Platform, an annual forum dedicated to reintegrating the peninsula into Ukraine. Last but not least, he is committed to the exchange of political prisoners and prisoners of war in Crimea, as Ukrainian media reported. In August 2021, Zelenskyi presented him with an Order of Merit to the Fatherland.

Reznikov's ouster was long awaited

Reznikov has served as defense minister for 550 days since the start of Russia's aggressive war, Zelenskyy said yesterday. "I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and different formats of cooperation with the soldiers and society as a whole," said the president. Reznikov has been Minister of Defense since November 2021. Ukraine has been defending itself against the Russian invasion for more than 18 months.

Resnikov's resignation had already been discussed last winter. The politician, who came under criticism after scandals in his office, did not think of resigning voluntarily. Resnikov said in early February that he would only resign if Selenskyj asked him to do so. "No official stays in office forever," he added.

Among the series of scandals and affairs in the Defense Ministry in the Reznikov era is the resignation of his deputy Vyacheslav Shapovalov. In the winter he had had to resign in connection with the purchase of overpriced groceries for soldiers. According to media reports, money was also embezzled during the construction of barracks. Resnikov always rejected the allegations. The aim was apparently to "undermine trust in the Ministry of Defense at a very important point in time," he said at the time. Ukraine is considered one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.

The Ukrainian media had reported several times - and increasingly so in the past few days - that the 57-year-old Resnikov was about to be replaced. The minister had recently repeatedly stated that he was ready to go, but that a replacement had to be found for him. He spoke to Selenskyj about another post. The position of ambassador in London is vacant.

Reznikov: $100 billion in military aid

In his last interview as defense minister, Reznikov put the military aid provided to date by Ukraine's western allies at around $100 billion, including nearly $60 billion from the United States. This is money that was spent on weapons, military equipment and ammunition, he told the state news agency Ukrinform.

In addition, Ukraine also receives billions in aid from the West, for example to finance its national budget. Reznikov also reiterated that the F-16 fighter jets promised by the West should be ready for action in the front area in the spring.

Zelenskyj thanks Macron for support

In a phone call to French President Emmanuel Macron, Zelenskyy thanked him for the military aid he has received so far. Zelensky said Ukrainian pilots were also being trained in France, making the international fighter jet coalition even more powerful. The next aid packages were also discussed with Macron. Selenskyj did not give any details.

It was also agreed that France and French companies should take part in the Ukrainian Defense Industry Forum. The country wants to become one of the largest arms producers in the world. According to official information, Ukraine is now also producing missiles with longer ranges and powerful drones and wants to export these after the end of the war.

Russia launches new drone attacks

Meanwhile, Russia launched renewed heavy drone strikes on targets in southern and central Ukraine during the night and early Monday morning. "For three and a half hours, Russian terrorists attacked the south of the Odessa region with drones," the region's military governor, Oleh Kiper, wrote on Telegram. Although 17 drones were shot down, there were also several impacts. In the Izmail district, for example, storage rooms, production halls, industrial plants and agricultural equipment were damaged.

According to Russian military bloggers, the port infrastructure in the Danube Delta was again attacked in the Odessa region. An oil facility was damaged in the port city of Reni. This information could not initially be verified independently. After the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea expired, Russia has already repeatedly shelled ports in Ukraine.

Attacks were also reported in the morning from the industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk. A fire broke out as a result of a hit in an infrastructure object, military governor Serhiy Lyssak said on his Telegram channel. He did not provide any further information about the damage. Six drones were shot down. According to preliminary information, there were dead and injured neither in the Odessa region nor in Dnipropetrovsk.

What is important today

Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who acts as a mediator in the war between Moscow and Kiev, are meeting in the Russian Black Sea metropolis of Sochi. The talks are also said to be about resuming the agreement to ship Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.