Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (File)
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Sunday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy — Situation Is “Tough” on Eastern Frontline
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1426 GMT:
Norway Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is proposing 75 billion Norwegian crowns ($7.35 billion) in aid to Ukraine over five years.
Half the aid in 2023 will be earmarked for military requirements and half will meet humanitarian needs.
After meeting wopposition leaders, Støre said, “We aim to secure a unified agreement on this in Parliament.”
Norway has reaped billions in extra oil and gas revenue from the effects of the Russian invasion on energy prices.
UPDATE 1418 GMT:
David Arakhamia, the Parliamentary head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party, says, “There will be no personnel changes in the defense sector this week.”
Arakhamia said on Sunday that Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov would become Strategic Industries Minister and be replaced by Kyrylo Budanov, head of the GUR military intelligence agency (see Original Entry).
UPDATE 0932 GMT:
Russian journalist and food blogger Veronika Belotserkovskaya has been sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison.
Belotserkovskaya has been investigated since last March on the charge of spreading “disinformation” about the Russian army. Prosecutors said her posts had “knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces murdering children, bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol, and murdering civilians in Bucha”.
Russian authorities seized about $2.17 million of the journalist’s property.
UPDATE 0929 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed one civilian and injured another.
UPDATE 0841 GMT:
The first of Canada’s Leopard 2 battle tanks for Ukraine has arrived in Poland.
Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted:
The first Canadian Leopard 2 main battle tank that we've donated to Ukraine has now arrived in Poland. Alongside our allies, we’ll soon be training the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the use of this equipment.
Canada will continue to #StandWithUkraine. 🇨🇦🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/ylO6rQaJWb
— Anita Anand (@AnitaAnandMP) February 6, 2023
UPDATE 0814 GMT:
Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak has posted video of some of the 116 Ukrainian POWs freed in a prisoner exchange on Saturday.
Ukraine returned 63 Russian troops in the exchange mediated by the UAE.
Ukrainian Defenders right after they were free from Russian captivity. Their first words and emotions.
📹: Coordination Center on Prisoners of War pic.twitter.com/OjQBe3nX6C
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 6, 2023
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Reports are gathering that Ukraine President Vladimir Zelenskiy will soon replace Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.
On Sunday night, David Arakhamia, Parliamentary leader of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party, said Reznikov will become Strategic Industries Minister, overseeing military-industrial cooperation.
“War dictates changes in personnel policy,” Arakhamia posted on Telegram. “Times and circumstances require strengthening and regrouping. This is what is happening now and will happen in the future.”
The Zelenskiy ally said Kyrylo Budanov, head of the GUR military intelligence agency, will be the new Defense Minister. He added that acting Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko and the acting head of security services Vasyl Maliuk will be appointed to permanent positions.
At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Reznikov responded to questions that he might have to depart amid a corrupt scandal in the Defense Ministry: “No one is in the chair for his whole life….[This is] up to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in accordance with the constitution”.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy did not refer to Reznikov, instead emphasizing:
We have already begun preparing for the events of the coming week, which could become quite significant. We are preparing decisions and negotiations that should strengthen our warriors, provide Ukraine with more international support and more weapons.
Weapons Supplies and Anti-Corruption Efforts
Last week Reznikov met his French counterpart and President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, as Kyiv seeks battle tanks, fighter jets, air defense, and other advanced military equipment from allies.
On Sunday he highlighted the deliveries from partners, including 155mm artillery and the recent commitment to German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks: “We can say today we are de facto a NATO country.”
However, Reznikov has been under mounting pressure as journalists and activists exposed the corruption scandal with the Defense Ministry overpaying for military rations.
Last month Zelenskiy began a removal of dozens of senior officials after a Deputy Minister overseeing infrastructure was caught receiving a $400,000 cash bribe.
More properties were raided last week, including those connected with oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, and the head of the Kyiv tax authority.
See also Ukraine War, Day 344: Zelenskiy Government’s Anti-Corruption Drive
Reznikov acknowledged on Sunday that anti-corruption efforts in the Defense Ministry need to be “fully reloaded”.