By David Sole
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky fired his Minister of Defense on September 4. This comes in the midst of the highly touted “Spring Offensive” which began on June 4 against the formidable Russian Federation armed forces. With Fall now approaching the Ukrainian military has chalked up no serious advances, and in some areas of the front are being pushed back.
Oleksii Reznikov’s ouster as top military official has been described by most of the Western media as a result of widespread corruption in his department. The New York Times wrote on September 4 “The removal … highlights the enduring challenge of corruption in Ukraine” which “had been widespread in Ukraine for years.”
The Times pointed out: “At one point this year, about $980 million in weapons contracts had missed their delivery dates … and some prepayments for weapons had vanished into overseas accounts of weapons dealers, according to reports made to Parliament.”
But it is unlikely that corruption alone accounts for this high-level firing in the middle of war. The utter failure of the military situation faced by Ukraine lies behind such a dramatic shakeup. The pro-Ukraine Western media has been trying to hide the truth from the world by exaggerated reports of Ukraine taking a tiny village south of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region on the southern front.
After weeks of heavy fighting and heavy Ukrainian losses the fighting continues in and around the hamlet of Robotino. And all across the 600 mile line of contact the Ukrainian forces have still not even approached the first of several major Russian defensive lines built up over the past year.
While Ukraine doesn’t release casualty figures, the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported that over the past three months of the offensive Ukraine “has lost some 66,000 troops [killed or wounded] and 7,600 pieces of heavy weaponry.”
Occasional penetration of Russian air defenses by Ukrainian drones in Crimea or Russian cities cannot cover up the glaring failure of the offensive operations. In fact, in the east sector, Ukrainian troops have been pushed back around Bakhmut. In the northeast a large force of Russian Federation forces have come ever closer to the important city of Kupyansk .
It is important to take note that one week before Reznikov’s dismissal, “United States’ national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met with three high-ranking Ukrainian officials to discuss efforts to stamp out wartime corruption.” [New York Times article cited above] Perhaps it was Sullivan who gave the order to get rid of the defense chief, hoping to turn the tide of battle with a new leader. It may have been the price Ukraine had to pay to get the latest of many military aid packages.
On September 7 the Pentagon announced a $600 million dollar package of military hardware for Ukraine, one day after a visit to Kiev by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This package is for long-term contracts for air defense systems, HIMARS rocket launchers, artillery shells and mine clearing equipment, among other items.
Blinken promised additional military aid worth $175 million to be taken from current U.S. stockpiles as well as $100 million cash for Ukraine to buy weapons on the open market. Another $805 million in non-military aid was also announced for “law enforcement,” “humanitarian aid,” “to combat corruption,” and “removing mines.” This included $5.4 million given to Ukraine from frozen assets of Russian individuals. [AP article cited above]
Reznikov’s replacement as Defense Minister is Rustem Umerov. RT reported on September 7 that “In late August, the [Ukrainian] High Anti-Corruption Court (VAKS) reportedly ordered the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to look into complaints against Umerov and two of his now-former deputies in the State Property Fund (FGIU), the agency that he led before taking over the military portfolio earlier this week.” Western media have not yet reported on this claim.