Ukraine’s next Defense Minister is People’s Deputy Rustem Umerov, whom President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed on September 4. The Ukrainian president did this after dismissing Oleksii Reznikov as defense minister because, as he put it, a “new approach” was required in the conflict with Russia.
Zelenskyy replaced Ukraine’s military chief after he was requested to make a “personnel decision,” which he explained in a televised statement in Kyiv. The president of Ukraine spoke highly of Reznikov, citing his involvement in combat lasting more than 550 days against Russian forces. The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is familiar with Umerov, he said, adding that the politician does not require “any introduction.”
To that end, Umerov is now serving as chairman of the Ukrainian State Property Fund. The new defense minister has been implicated in prisoner exchanges and named as a key negotiator in the Black Sea Gran Initiative, according to several media outlets. On multiple times, Umerov has stated his doubt that the Kremlin will uphold its end of the agreement.
According to Politico, Zelenskyy’s move to fire Reznikov is an effort to show Ukraine’s Western friends that the country is serious about combating corruption. The media site further noted that this action demonstrates Kyiv’s commitment to regaining control of Crimea from Russia.
By virtue of this declaration, Umerov made history as the first Crimean Tatar and Muslim to hold such a position in the Ukrainian administration. Zelenskyy’s representatives have been quoted in Politico as saying the administration is making efforts to involve the Crimean Tatar population in its major policy decisions.
According to Mejlis chairman Refat Chubarov’s interview with this publication, Umerov possesses “strategic vision” and has built relationships across the globe, including in Europe, the United States, Central Asia, and the “Arab world.” He also noted that the Crimean Tatar community would be taking on “great responsibility” with his appointment because of their inclusion in the government’s core institutions.