Back on Sunday, February 5, the leader of the "Servant of the People" faction, David Arakhamia, stated that the Minister of Defense, Oleksiy Reznikov, would be transferred to the position of the Minister of Strategic Industries, and the current head of the State Government, Kyrylo Budanov, would take his place.
However, already on Monday, February 6, Arakhamia took back his words:
"We expect the appointment of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine. Personnel changes in the field of defense will not take place this week."
Colleagues from other factions immediately began to mock that the monomajority finally opened the law on national security, which provides for the appointment of the minister of defense "from among civilians."
However, the deputy head of the Verkhovna Rada committee on national security, Maryana Bezugla, added even more fuel to this fire:
"As for the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Strategic Industry, they have been suspended for the time being, there will be no resignations or appointments this week
," adding later in comments on Facebook about
"risks for the system as a whole in front of Ramstein and taking into account the possible offensive, we evaluate."
The Ministry of Defense and Oleksiy Reznikov himself are criticized for failed communication with society after the scandal involving the purchase of food for the military at inflated prices, which was called the "food scandal" and "eggs for 17".
However, the same flagrant incompetence was demonstrated by individual deputies from the monomajority, who first announced personnel rotations in the power bloc, and then canceled them themselves.
About what really happened at the top of the government, whether Oleksiy Reznikov will leave the Ministry of Defense and when, as well as what risks it poses for Ukraine on the international stage on the eve of the "aviation" Ramstein, in the material of TSN.
The scandal with eggs at UAH 17 per piece, which was written about by the journalist of the publication "Our Money" Yuriy Nikolov with reference to the agreement of the Ministry of Defense to provide food for the military in six rear regions for UAH 13 billion, although it was not only about eggs, made a lot of noise.
Yes, the fact of corruption has not yet been proven.
However, in democratic Western countries, this is automatically equal to the resignation of high profile officials.
That is, it is about political responsibility.
And, of course, relevant anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies should investigate such cases in order to bring the culprits to justice.
But in Ukraine, another corruption scandal, especially during a full-scale war, according to the good old tradition, immediately turned into a war of all against all.
First of all,
the communication of the Ministry of Defense itself and Oleksiy Reznikov personally did not work very well.
Back in January, the ministry said that information about the purchase of food for the army at inflated prices was being spread with signs of deliberate manipulation and was misleading, and appealed to the Security Service of Ukraine.
Then Oleksiy Reznikov personally denied the data on the purchase of products at inflated prices, adding that this was an error with the conversion of pieces into kilograms (regarding eggs - ed.), which relevant officials noticed in the contracts back in December.
After that, there were explanations of the minister about the eggs themselves, how many are there per kilogram, taking into account the daily caloric intake per serviceman, etc.
Sometimes it reached the point of absurdity, because the new comments contradicted the previous ones.
The special committee of the Verkhovna Rada on national security, defense and intelligence, where at a special meeting they saw a copy of the corresponding contract on food procurement, also stated that the price of eggs there does not correspond to reality.
However, they called for some conclusions to be made after the appropriate investigation by the law enforcement officers, denying any personnel rotations.
The other day, in an interview with "Ukrainian Pravda", Oleksiy Reznikov said the following: "I admit my communication failure, mine and my team's from the point of view of quick reaction. It should have been quick and different."
However, he added that the journalist (Yuriy Nikolov – ed.) must have made a mistake, and again began to explain that in the documents (purchase contracts – ed.) there is no number "17" in the "pieces" section, but it is located where the weight is.
And then he admitted that the purchase prices in these contracts are really surprising, because they are higher than in supermarkets.
against this background, Minister Reznikov informed the specialized committee of the Verkhovna Rada that Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, the director of the procurement department at the Ministry of Defense, was removed from his duties in December of last year, and then fired.
And Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was responsible for the rear support of the Armed Forces, resigned.
However, even here it did not pass without a communication failure.
On February 1, the SBI reported Shapovalov's suspicion, arguing that "he lobbied for the conclusion of contracts for the supply of products for the military at inflated prices, as well as the purchase of low-quality bulletproof vests, helmets, clothes and other items for the needs of the Armed Forces for more than UAH 1 billion."
And then the court arrested Shapovalov for 2 months with a bail of UAH 400 million.
Together with Shapovalov, according to the SBI report on February 2, they exposed and detained a criminal group of 5 people, which included representatives of supplier companies and military personnel, who embezzled the funds allocated for the food of the Armed Forces.
And three days after that, at a press conference on Sunday, February 5, Oleksiy Reznikov declared that he was not aware of a single fact of suspicion being handed over to officials of the ministry engaged in food procurement:
"I will tell you more, according to my information, without disclosing the facts of the investigation, the suspicions that were handed to the two named persons do not relate to food. They relate to completely different situations. The law enforcement system is dealing with this."
Neither Reznikov nor Budanov were warned
Interlocutors of TSN.ua in power circles believe that Reznikov's press conference on Sunday, February 5, against the background of rumors about his resignation, was called for one purpose - to hand over the passport to the Office of the President, which did not inform Reznikov himself about his possible transfer to the position of minister on issues of strategic industries.
Later on Sunday, February 5, a closed meeting of the "Servant of the People" faction took place, after which David Arakhamia confirmed in his Telegram the transfer of Reznikov to a new position, arguing that it is "absolutely logical, taking into account his expertise on "Ramstein" and the need to "raise" a ministry that should do more."
To replace Reznikov in the Ministry of Defense, Arakhamia announced the candidacy of the chief intelligence officer of Ukraine, Kyryll Budanov.
However, according to political scientist Volodymyr Fesenko, it seems that this decision was not agreed with either Reznikov or Budanov, and the deputies hurried to announce it publicly in order to catch the hype.
And it turned into an even bigger scandal.
"This is an old tradition: a person is fired, they are not informed, he learns about it from the media. This dates back to Kuchma's time. But now the situation is different. Reznikov has a special relationship with both the president and the head of the OPU. Why was it not agreed? If it was about transferring Reznikov to the Ministry of Justice, where he wants, there would be no problems, I'm just convinced. He would agree to such a formula. And here it's not only that they didn't inform, but they transfer him to a place he doesn't want, to the ministry, which was in the plans for liquidation in general. It is obvious that this is a temporary position. And what's next?", - commented TSN.ua political scientist.
Volodymyr Fesenko also adds that the situation is similar with Budanov, with whom this was also not agreed upon.
"They write that, they say, they did not know the law (the law on national security, which requires the appointment of the minister of defense from among civilians - ed.). But they knew everything. They just did not take it into account. And they did not fully agree with Budanov, who, they say, did not I really wanted this position for various reasons. And you have to resign from military service, and Budanov, as I understand it, does not want that. He wants to end the war in the ranks of the Armed Forces. And here there are problems in the ministry, it is not known how it will end. But I understand , why they wanted him, because he was the only candidate to bring order to the ministry," Volodymyr Fesenko added.
Split in power
But if that was the biggest problem.
Bad communication on the part of the Ministry of Defense and the OPU literally divided the public into two camps: some say that Reznikov should resign because he did not put order in the Ministry;
others - that you cannot change the Minister of Defense, who established excellent communication with Western partners regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine, even on the eve of the ninth Ramstein on February 14, which everyone already calls "aviation".
Some generally call this whole scandal a purposeful special operation and an attack on the Ministry of Defense in order to shake the stability of Ukraine before the spring escalation at the front.
But the SBI announces suspicions, the former deputy minister has already been arrested.
Opinions were also divided in the specialized parliamentary committee on national security.
In conversations with TSN.ua, some said that the minister should bear political responsibility for suspicions of corruption in his ministry, because they really exist.
Others question the fact that Reznikov's resignation will change anything, because they do not believe that he knew about these facts of corruption in the Ministry of Defense, was too involved in it.
"I believe that now Reznikov should not be changed. First
of all, the
meeting in Ramstein is coming soon, and he showed himself from the best side. I know him through joint work in the TCG (Tripartite Contact Group, which existed within the framework of the Minsk process - ed.), and he really is a strong and professional negotiator.
the situation at the front is quite tense now, and changing the Minister of Defense at this time means creating additional risks," the head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Policy told TSN.ua .
Darya Kaleniuk, executive director and member of the board of the Anti-Corruption Center, wrote on Facebook that there are questions about the competence of Oleksiy Reznikov, for example, what kind of weapons Ukraine needs, how to get access to NATO's weapons technologies, how to set up logistics and repairs of the Western weapons in Ukraine, etc.
Mykhailo Samus, Deputy Director of the Army, Conversion and Disarmament Center for International Affairs, disagrees with this.
This function of the Ministry of Defense regarding the provision of weapons and military equipment is carried out at the request of the head of the Armed Forces.
That is, there is the General Staff, the Joint Command, the head - they form a matrix of what weapons they need to perform their tasks.
And they give this list to the Minister of Defense.
Therefore, in principle, the Minister of Defense does not have to fully understand what, for example, Leopard 2 differs from Leopard 2A4, but he can always consult, because he is not alone in the negotiation groups.
The Minister of Defense is primarily a politician.
In Western democracies, defense ministers are everywhere civilian political figures to prevent corruption schemes.
As for the release of Oleksiy Reznikov, according to Mykhailo Samus, not everything is so tragic, because our defense depends not on the minister, not on Reznikov personally, but on the Ukrainian nation and the leadership of Ukraine.
That is, if President Zelensky, as the Supreme Commander, considers it expedient to change the Minister of Defense, our international partners should treat this with understanding.
"For example, in Germany, just a few days before Ramstein, the minister of defense was changed, and it's nothing to worry about. In any case, this is indicative from the point of view of the military situation. That is, the minister of defense lost a little control over the ministry, because corruption processes took place," he says TSN.ua Mykhailo Samus.
The expert sees two possible solutions to this problem.
- Reznikov can stay, because he was definitely not involved in these corruption processes.
But create conditions for some kind of anti-corruption structure, more active involvement of journalists, the public, and parliamentary control.
- Reznikov will indeed resign and be appointed to another position.
Then a new team will have to enter.
And it will take some time for the new team to start working.
"These are not weeks, but months. And we are currently preparing for a critical situation in this war, it is possible. Because in the spring, the Russian Federation and Ukraine will try to advance on the battlefield. For us, this is based precisely on receiving foreign weapons. Therefore, the change of the team will not be catastrophic, but in certain areas, the efficiency may decrease purely due to technical issues," says Mykhailo Samus.
Political scientist Volodymyr Fesenko adds that Reznikov is not involved in internal management at the Ministry of Defense.
And Reznikov's success in Ramstein is not a key problem, because all agreements on weapons are adopted at the bilateral level.
Therefore, as an important figure for negotiations, Oleksiy Reznikov can be left, for example, as a special representative in Ramstein.
Be that as it may, the Verkhovna Rada is sure that the resignation of Oleksiy Reznikov is almost solved.
But, once again, they admit: if Budanov refuses, then there really are no other candidates to replace him.
However, against the background of this high-profile corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense, in addition to the actual resignation of the relevant minister, who, according to experts, did not take care of the internal management of the Ministry of Defense (although this does not absolve him from responsibility), society should receive answers to more urgent questions.
how to clean the Ministry of Defense from corruption schemes.
After all, the question is not in the name of the minister, but in the system, which has been used to function like this for many years.
the law on national security directly requires the appointment of a civilian as the Minister of Defense.
Why did the authorities decide that Budanov, who is a military personnel, will succeed in bringing order to the Ministry of Defense?
In addition, anti-corruption legislation expressly prohibits a person from holding a position in the same or a subsidiary department after dismissal.
Therefore, from a purely legal point of view, the appointment of Budanov was impossible.
indeed, against the background of military escalation, a major offensive by the Russians, another Ramstein and Ukraine receiving new types of Western weapons, how quickly will the new team in the Ministry of Defense work?