Reznikov was dismissed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in September, citing the administration's "new approaches" in the department. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Reznikov confirmed that he had submitted his resignation letter to the country's parliament. (Related: Zelensky dismisses seven top defense officials in bid to "reboot" his corruption-ridden Defense Ministry.)
The 57-year-old has become a well-known figure since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. He has regularly attended meetings with the Western allies and played a key role in lobbying for additional military equipment.
— Aryan Pankaj Vivaswan (@AryanVivaswan) September 25, 2023
According to local media, the former defense minister said that if Zelensky offered the opportunity for him to work on another project he would probably agree. "His legacy is that he has convinced ministers of defense around the world that the impossible is possible," Ukrainian Defense Advisor Yuriy Sak said in reference to Reznikov's constant push for requesting weapons from foreign governments.
But for observers, the cabinet reshuffle that included the dismissal of Reznikov came amid a wider anti-corruption drive in Zelensky's administration. These steps have been seen as essential to Ukraine's ambitions to join Western institutions like the European Union.
Though he was not directly accused of corruption, there have been a number of scandals at the ministry that involved the procurement of goods and equipment for the army at inflated prices. Earlier this year, his deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, resigned due to a scandal. It was widely reported at the time that Reznikov almost lost his job. Moreover, the ministry has been rocked by several recent arrests at regional recruitment offices, where officers have been accused of taking bribes to allow men to avoid Ukraine's military draft.
Meanwhile, a recent social media also exposed Reznikov for buying a seven-million-euro villa in Cannes, France as a small wedding gift for his daughter. But as per the context added by other readers, the mansion in the shared video post is still for sale and the photo of him with his daughter was from 2013 and not recent.
Be they true or not, critics are still concerned about the amount of money that Zelensky's former ally stole. A Citizen Watch Report article pointed out that it had been deemed politically incorrect to say that Reznikov stole American dollars as "he only stole Ukrainian money." To Reznikov's rescue is his president, who tried to put off the fire thrown at his former defense chief by agreeing that Reznikov did not steal Western money. "He stole Ukrainian ones, but this is different, and not scary at all," he said.
Zelensky calmed everyone down
He says that former Defence minister Reznikov did not steal Western money. He stole Ukrainian ones, but this is different, not scary at all. pic.twitter.com/HqnfnIGm9r
— MARIA (@its_maria012) September 17, 2023
However, "Ukraine doesn't have any money, it is all coming from U.S. taxpayers," the independent news outlet cited fact checkers' findings.
Amid issues of Ukrainian officials pocketing money from their Western friends, President Joe Biden's administration still continues to funnel money into their "self-inflicted war" – but with adjustments so that experts would not notice the money laundering.
Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported that the White House Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Mike Pyle has sent a letter to the Donor Coordination Platform, with a list of reforms that Ukraine must implement in order to continue receiving military assistance. It was also sent to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Zelensky's office.
The reforms focused on the functioning of the supervisory boards of state-owned businesses, anti-corruption bodies (the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, National Agency for Corruption Prevention, etc.), the High Council of Justice, and the judiciary in general. It also outlined courses of action in order of priority with a timeline, such as 0-3 months, 3-6 months, one year, and 18 months.
A disclaimer was included in reports that the letter is a preliminary working draft and is subject to consideration. Meanwhile, Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).