Ukraine has dismissed its defense minister. President Volodymyr Zelensky has nominated Rustem Umerov to the post, replacing Oleksiy Reznikov. There are rumors as yet unconfirmed that Reznikov, who hails from Lviv, will become Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK.
While there were accusations of significant corruption in Ukraine’s defense ministry and finger-pointing at Reznikov, he remained in his post and was not formally accused of wrongdoing. There are still reports of corruption, including the sale of Western armaments to third parties outside Ukraine.
Umerov has almost no defense experience. He is currently the chairman of the State Property Fund, whose mission is to attract investment into Ukraine, and he has been closely involved in prisoner-of-war exchanges. He also served as a senior negotiator in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Umerov as a businessman was successful in the telecom business in Ukraine. His ethnicity is Tatar and Crimean, but he was born in Uzbekistan.
We are about at the end of the Ukrainian counter offensive which is why Reznikov was kicked out, since he can now be blamed for the failure.
There are reports that Ukraine is ginning up a major manpower recruiting effort to try and build a new army of 500,000 by 2025. To do that, the country will have to dip into the privileged who mostly have bought (bribed) their way out of the war. The Guardian reports that thousands of Ukrainian men are avoiding military service.
Ukraine is also changing the recruitment requirements to include all males between 25 and 55 and those who were excluded for medical reasons. Ukraine also will be undertaking a major campaign in Europe demanding that recruitment-eligible males living outside Ukraine be returned to Ukraine for the Ukrainian army.
There are about 5.2 million registered refugees from Ukraine in Europe with Poland holding the largest number outside of Russia, with 1,194,642 as of last July.
Young people continue to leave Ukraine. Last week a group of young men were stopped in Lviv on their way out of the country. With the expansion of draft criteria to include medical cases and older citizens, the crackdown on exits is likely to spiral up.
I cannot vouch for the following as a translation of an official announcement but the details seem to fit:
The Western press (especially in the UK and US) continue to claim that somehow Ukraine’s counter-offensive is gaining ground and has even breached Russia’s first line of defense. This is propaganda – Ukraine has suffered horrendous losses.
Tass quotes Russian President Putin, speaking on the margins of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 4 saying: “As for the stalling of the counteroffensive , it is not a stalling, it is a failure.”
Tass goes on to report: “The Russian Defense Ministry also noted that the Ukrainian army had been making unsuccessful offensive attempts since June 4. Over the past two months, Kiev has lost more than 43,000 troops and about 5,000 pieces of various military equipment, including 26 planes and 25 Leopard tanks.”
If the current reports on Ukraine’s emerging strategy are correct, Ukraine will attempt to hold the current contact line and try and stabilize the military situation while it reconstitutes its forces, with a two-year window to get to a level to continue the war aggressively.
The strategy seems to imply that the arrival in Ukraine of new weapons and some additional deep strike capabilities can hold off the Russians for a few years. The Russians are still playing their cards very close to the vest, so what Russia does in the coming weeks (aside from its current active defense posture) remains unknown.
It is likely Moscow is waiting to see what signals may come from Washington. Erdogan’s current visit to Sochi and his meeting with Putin may bring along messages from the Biden administration. Judging from Putin’s remarks, the Russians have not fully evaluated what they are being told.
In the next few weeks, Putin and his generals will need to sort out their next moves.
Stephen Bryen is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Yorktown Institute. This article was originally published on Weapons and Strategy, his Substack. Asia Times is republishing the article with permission.