A shake-up of Ukraine’s top ministerial positions that will replace the country’s defense minister is coming, a close adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky signaled Sunday, as a midwinter surge in fighting and a possible Russian offensive loom.
On Monday morning, however, Arakhamia posted another message on Telegram saying no change would take place this week.
“We are waiting for the appointment of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine,” he wrote. “Personnel changes in the field of defense will not take place this week.”
Zelensky dismissed Ivan Bakanov, the head of the security service, or SBU, in July and the agency has been led by an acting chief since then, while the interior minister, Denis Monastyrsky, was killed in a helicopter crash last month.
Budanov is known for having correctly predicted Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine when most officials thought any Russian incursions would be much smaller in scope. He carries influence with Zelensky and other officials.
Reznikov, a politician who became defense minister in November 2021, will be named minister for strategic industries to strengthen military-industrial cooperation, Arakhamia said, calling the moves “absolutely logical for wartime.” The 37-year-old Budanov, whose résumé includes special operations and dodging assassination attempts, has risen quickly through the ranks to become one of Ukraine’s youngest generals.
“War dictates personnel policy. Time and circumstances call for strengthening and regrouping. This is happening now and will continue to happen in the future,” Arakhamia said on Telegram, writing in Ukrainian.
Such decisions come from the president, but members of parliament have to vote on the proposed changes. The shake-up comes amid a wider crackdown on corruption in Ukraine that has included other dismissals and investigations.
The Defense Ministry had been under scrutiny for misappropriation of funds after Ukrainian journalists reported that the military had paid inflated prices for food.
Reznikov was not implicated, and aid from Western countries was not involved, but with ministerial changes, Zelensky is attempting to reassure the United States and other allies that their aid won’t be mishandled. The defense minister plays a key role in negotiating with other countries for aid, including weapons.
Neither Zelensky nor Reznikov commented Sunday afternoon after the announcement, though Reznikov hinted at a potential change earlier in the day. At a news conference Sunday, Reznikov acknowledged reports of his potential departure from the defense minister post, but said that would be Zelensky’s decision.
“No authority sits in the same chair for their entire life, so you have to be prepared for this fate,” Reznikov said. “As a former lawyer, I’m optimistic that even if I’m not in this role, I’ll have a role that will allow me to punish the Russians.”
The expected changes come as Russian forces increased attacks in Ukraine’s disputed Donetsk region in recent days. Ukraine has warned that Russia plans to launch a new offensive in the coming weeks as the first anniversary of the war looms.
Arakhamia also said the administration will move to make Ihor Klymenko internal affairs minister and Vasyl Malyuk head of the SBU, Ukraine’s security service. Both are already holding those roles in acting positions.
“The logic is the same," Arakhamia said. “Law enforcement agencies at this stage should be headed not by politicians, but by cadre law enforcement officers. The enemy is preparing to advance. We are preparing to defend ourselves.”