Russia-Ukraine war: Zelensky sacks defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov as Putin strikes Kyiv grain port

Pskov Airfield: Sky glows orange during largest drone strike on Russian territory since war began

Volodymyr Zelensky said he has decided to dismiss his war-time defence minister Oleksii Reznikov and would ask parliament this week to replace him with Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s main privatisation fund.

“I’ve decided to replace the Minister of Defence of Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov has been through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” he said, adding that he “believes the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society as a whole”.

The exit of lawyer-turned-politician Reznikov marks the biggest shakeup of Ukraine’s defence establishment during the war launched by Russia in February 2022.

While he secured billions of dollars of Western military aid to help the war effort, Reznikov has been dogged by graft allegations surrounding his ministry that he described as smears.

This comes as Russia launched a major drone strike on Ukraine’s grain exporting port in Odesa region this morning.

The three and a half hour long drone assault damaged warehouses and set buildings on fire just hours before Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan, were due to hold talks on the halted grain deal.


Who is Oleksii Reznikov, the war-time defence face of Ukraine?

Volodymyr Zelensky has said time has come for Ukraine for new changes, which will involve exit of Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister since November 2021.

The 57-year-old former lawyer turned defence minister has helped secure billions of dollars of Western military aid to help the war effort, but has been dogged by graft allegations surrounding his ministry that he has described as smears.

In the continuing war, Mr Reznikov’s defence ministry lobbied the West to overcome taboos on supplying powerful military gear to Ukraine, including German-made main battle tanks and HIMARS rocket artillery. And after much bidding and pushing, Kyiv now looks poised to receive US-made F-16 fighter jets soon.

An English-speaker, Mr Reznikov is seen as having built up a strong rapport with allied defence ministers and military officials.

One member of parliament has tipped him as Ukraine’s possible new ambassador to London.

His apparent exit appears to bring an end to months of domestic media pressure that began in January when Mr Reznikov’s ministry was accused of buying food at inflated prices.

Though he was not personally involved in the food contract, some Ukrainian commentators said he should take political responsibility for what happened.

Last month, a Ukrainian media outlet accused his ministry of corruption during the procurement of winter coats for the army. He has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly said he was being targeted by a smear campaign.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 04:38


Russian drones detonated on Romanian territory during Danube strike, Ukrainian defence ministry claims

Russian kamikaze drones fell and detonated on Romanian territory during an overnight attack on Ukrainian port infrastructure, Ukraine’s defence ministry claimed.

It comes after Russia fired around 32 drones at Ukraine in Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts, damaging industrial facilities and infrastructure. But Romania’s defence ministry has “categorically” denied Kyiv’s claims.

Ukraine’s air force said at least 23 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 drones were shot down by the country’s military. It claimed the drones were launched from the annexed Crimea.

The attack damaged warehouses, production facilities, agricultural machinery, and industrial equipment in several settlements of the Izmail district.

Romania is a member of the NATO military alliance. In a statement on Facebook, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko, urged Western partners to speed up supplies of air defence systems to Ukraine.

Alexander Butler4 September 2023 09:17


Who is Rustem Umerov, Ukraine’s likely new defence minister?

Rustem Umerov, 41, is a leading member of the Crimean Tatar community, and has been part of the Ukrainian government task force working on a strategy to end Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula since 2020.

He was born in Soviet Uzbekistan, after his family was exiled there from Crimea under Stalin, and moved back to the peninsula as a child when the Tatars, an Turkic ethnic group, were allowed to return in the 1980s and 1990s.

In September 2022, Mr Umerov, then a lawmaker from the pro-European Holos party, became head of the State Property Fund, an agency selling state assets to private investors.

He was also a member of the Ukrainian team that held negotiations with Russia in March 2022, one month after Russia’s full-scale invasion. He also took part in talks on the Black Sea Grain deal and on exchanges of prisoners, including Ukraine’s Azov fighters who were captured during the battle for the southern city of Mariupol in 2022.

Mr Umerov was a member of the delegation during a visit by Zelensky to Saudi Arabia in May, and accompanied first lady Olena Zelenska during a visit to the United Arab Emirates in March.

Alexander Butler4 September 2023 08:51


Ukraine’s defence minister submits resignation letter

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov submitted his resignation letter to the chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

He wrote: “It was an honor to serve the Ukrainian people and work for the #UAarmy for the last 22 months, the toughest period of Ukraine’s modern history.”

It comes after Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky said he decided to dismiss Mr Reznikov and would ask parliament this week to replace him with Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s main privatisation fund.

It marks the biggest shake-up of Ukraine’s defence establishment since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Alexander Butler4 September 2023 08:14


More than 30 drones hit Ukraine overnight damaging infrastructure

Russian forces have fired around 32 kamikaze drones at Ukraine in Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts overnight, causing damage to industrial facilities and infrastructure.

At least 23 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 drones were shot down by Ukraine’s military, the country’s Air Force said.

The drones were launched from Cape Chauda in annexed Crimea and Russia’s port town of Primorsko-Akhtarsk on the Azov Sea coast, the Air Force said.

Of these, Ukraine’s air defences downed 17 drones launched at Odesa oblast, but some hits were still reported in the region, regional governor Oleh Kiper said.

The attack damaged warehouses, production facilities, agricultural machinery, and industrial equipment in several settlements of the Izmail district, he said.

Drone debris fell on civilian sites, causing fires that have already been put out, the official added.

No immediate casualties have been reported.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 07:53


Russia using malware to steal Ukraine’s sensitive military information, claims UK MoD

A Russian cyber threat group has likely used a malware called “Infamous Chisel” to steal sensitive military information from Ukrainian military, the British Ministry of Defence said today.

It cited a report by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on a malware campaign targeting Android mobile devices used by the Ukrainian military.

“The malware, referred to as ‘Infamous Chisel’, has been used by the Russian cyber threat group known as Sandworm. NCSC has previously attributed Sandworm to the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate’s (GRU) Main Centre for Special Technologies (GTsST),” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

It added that the malware Infamous Chisel enables “persistent access to, and the collation and exfiltration of data from, compromised Android devices” and this includes targeting applications used by the Ukrainian military.

“Infamous Chisel has highly likely been used with the aim of stealing sensitive military information. This activity demonstrates Russia’s continued use of cyber capabilities to support the invasion of Ukraine,” the ministry said.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 07:45


Putin strikes Ukraine grain exporting port ahead of talks with Erdogan

Russia launched a major Ukraine grain exporting port this morning, damaging warehouses and setting buildings on fire, Ukraine said, hours before Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan, were due to hold talks.

The drone assault lasted three and a half hours on the Danube River port of Izmail, in Ukraine’s Odesa region.

Regional governor said drone debris also set several civilian infrastructure buildings on fire, the governor of the Odesa region said.

After quitting the Black Sea grain deal, Moscow has launched frequent attacks on the ports of the Danube River, which has since become Ukraine‘s major route for exporting grain.

About 17 drones were shot down, but some hit their targets in the broader Izmail area, governor Oleh Kiper said on Telegram. He added that according to preliminary reports, there were no casualties or injuries.

The Russian president and his Turkish Putin and Erdogan are expected to meet today in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi as Ankara and the United Nations seek to revive a Ukraine grain export deal that helped ease a global food crisis. Ankara called the talks vital for the deal.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 06:38


Russia says four Ukraine inflatable boats in Black Sea destroyed

Four US-made inflatable boats with Ukraine’s landing forces in the northwestern part of the Black Sea has been destroyed by Russia’s naval force, the Russian defence ministry said on its Telegram channel.

The ministry said the US-made Willard Marine Sea Force inflatable boats were heading in the direction of Cape Tarkhankut on the Crimean Peninsula.

Military offensive and combat in the Black Sea waters has picked up in the recent weeks with Russia regularly claiming to strike Ukrainian forces.

Kyiv has not issued a comment on the reports of growing offensive in its southern waters it shares with Russia.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 05:17


Putin awards first crew who used hypersonic Kinzhal missile in Ukraine – report

The first Russian crew to use hypersonic, air-launched Kinzhal missiles during Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine has been presented with state awards, the Russian TASS state news agency reported today.

“The Su-34 aircraft used the Kinzhal hypersonic missile during the special military operation,” TASS cited an unnamed military source as saying.

“The first crew that successfully completed this task was presented with state awards.”

While Moscow has said very little so far about the Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile, Ukraine’s military says Russia uses them frequently in the continuing invasion against civilian targets.

TASS did not say when Russia used the Kinzhal missiles for the first time in Ukraine. The Russian defence ministry said in March that the missiles had been deployed to destroy Ukrainian targets, according to the ministry’s Telegram channel.

The Kinzhal is one of six “next generation” weapons unveiled by Vladimir Putin in a speech in March 2018.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 05:09


Russia claims Ukraine launched drone attacks on Kursk region

The Russian defence ministry has blamed Ukraine for launching drone attacks on the Kursk region of Russia overnight from yesterday to this morning.

The ministry claimed its forces had shot down two drones after midnight today.

Kursk region, bordering Ukraine to its west, saw attacked around 1am, the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

Last evening, regional governor claimed debris from a downed drone sparked a fire at a non-residential building in the city of Kurchatov.

The site of attack is about 4km from one of Russia’s biggest nuclear plants, but there were no reports the plant was affected or targeted.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 04:48

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