As Russia prepares to launch a new attack on Ukraine, ambiguity prevailed over the fate of the Ukrainian Minister of Defense in Kyiv yesterday, with an indication of the prevalence of chaos among the military leadership.
A day after it was announced that Oleksiy Reznikov would be removed from the post, a close ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky backtracked, saying the defense sector would not see changes this week.
The head of the parliamentary faction of Zelensky’s party had said that the head of military intelligence, Kirillo Budanov, would take over the Ministry of Defense, while Reznikov would be appointed Minister of Strategic Industries. But Zelensky kept silent, while Reznikov said Sunday he had not been notified of any changes and would turn down the new job if offered.
This confusion comes after a purge of several leaders in Kyiv, as part of an investigation into a huge fraud in the largest oil company and oil refinery. Zelensky described the campaign as an opportunity to prove that Kyiv is properly disposing of billions of dollars in Western aid.
Meanwhile, Russian forces are intensifying their advance in battles in eastern Ukraine. And the leader of the Russian armed “Wagner” group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, appeared yesterday on a plane he presented as a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber returning from a bombing operation targeting the city of Bakhmut. “We landed, bombed Bakhmut,” Prigozhin said in a short video. On the other hand, the head of the Ukrainian main administration, Andrei Yermak, said: “We are preparing to destroy (Wagner) as it is part of international terrorism.”
In turn, the governor of the Lugansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said that Russia is sending more reservists and equipment to eastern Ukraine, adding that Russian forces are preparing to launch a large-scale attack “at any time.”