05.10.2023 Author: Seth Ferris

A Game of Musical Chairs: Old and New Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Same MO!

A Game of Musical Chairs: Old and New Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Same MO!

The wool is being pulled over the eyes of the masses in Ukraine, Europe, and especially the United States. The vast majority of governments are run on the same principles as the mafia.  In Mexico, the operative phrase is “El que nada debe, nada teme,” (He who owes nothing, has nothing to hide, and nothing to fear).

We can also say that he who knows nothing fears nothing!

Coincidence or not, with this sudden transparency and governmental oversight, can we say that the Ukrainian Minister of Defense has been fired, replaced, dismissed, fired or just shifted around?  It appears to be just an act to make it to appear something is being done about CORRUPTION and to appease the US taxpayers who are footing the bill for the proxy war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian politics is, at best, a puzzling game for the naïve and faint of heart.  Or is more involved, with Zelensky swapping defense ministers? Out with Reznikov, the critic, an allegedly corrupt one; in with Umerov, another allegedly corrupt one.  In fact, they are two peas in a pod.

They all claim they are not involved in corruption, drugs, weapons trafficking, in crime, have no enemies and have nothing to fear.  And it is well-known who is involved – the police, the assassination squads. The intelligence services, they know everyone and everything – whether we are talking about those living in a rural village or residents in apartment blocks in downtown Kiev.

Here are some initial thoughts on the Old and New Minister of Defense of Ukraine, the knee-jerk reaction, and why the replacement, and why now?

A Quick Turn of the Shovel

A bit of background, a quick turn of the shovel, as if musical chairs are being played, with Reznikov, the outgoing Ukrainian Minister of Defense submitting his resignation. Meanwhile, Umerov, The head of the State Property Fund, is waiting in the shadows to immediately replace him. However, it is still debatable if he actually resigned but rather was dismissed, and in such a manner, and all for show, to make it look as if Ukraine was cracking down on corruption.

But according to official announcements, “Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has been dismissed from his post”, as Volodymyr as Zelensky announced.  It is worth noting that Ukraine is noted for its endemic corruption.

The NGO Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index showed that its corruption index had improved only gradually, one could even say, at a glacial pace; in 2020, it ranked 117 out of 180 countries, and this is even noted in Congressional Reports.

Various obstacles have impeded the functioning of these anti-corruption institutions. As discussed in the sections below, they have met resistance reportedly from within the judiciary and from oligarchic forces, as well as from some government officials who may seek to retain political control over these potentially powerful institutions.

Oleksii Reznikov, the 57-year-old, has been active since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine and is known for being closely connected with Ukraine’s supporters. He played a key role in lobbying for more and more military equipment, but he was not admired or been known for keeping track of where it went—or did he?

Tag Team

How does this come together, if not for show?

According to the party line, Reznikov’s sacking follows a series of scandals surrounding state procurement for the military, including eggs and jackets, to name a few.  Reznikov denies that purchases were made at inflated prices, and, of course, he would say that!

Zelensky’s decision to dismiss Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov comes after months of speculation that Reznikov would resign, said FRANCE 24’s reporting from Kyiv.

“There’s been several scandals involving the ministry of defence – not necessarily Reznikov himself, at first – but as the head of the ministry he was called to take responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Rustem Umerov, who is currently the head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, is planned to be appointed to the post of Defence Minister instead of Reznikov. . Who actually selected him, Rustem Umerov, the purported replacement?

So Now Comes a New Fox to Guard the Hen House?

Real Score

I wonder if he was imposed on Ukraine, and, if so, it is not hard to guess by whom.  He does not have a lot of defense experience, but perhaps ethnic and geopolitical issues and games are in play here. He is described in the media as something of a negotiator, and perhaps that is good, as the West needs to solve this unwinnable war, for the sake of the US political landscape.

It is worth noting that Rustem Umerov was a member of the Ukrainian team that held negotiations with Russia in March 2022, one month after Russia’s limited operation with less than 200,000 soldiers, most likely as a negotiation ploy to get Ukraine to honor the Minsk accord—or to at least admits its intentional failure on the part of the West and Ukraine, more a device to stall for time, while Ukraine was armed to the teeth.

Umerov also took part in talks on the Black Sea Grain deal and was active in the exchange of prisoners, including Ukraine’s infamous Azov Nazi* fighters who were captured during the battle for the southern city of Mariupol in 2022. He was a member of the delegation during a visit by Zelenskiy to Saudi Arabia in May—and has good Arab connections.

He is also a member of the Crimean Tatar community, and he has become a key member of Mr Zelensky’s international outreach efforts, focusing on fostering ties in the Islamic world. This may have been an essential factor in his selection, due to his Muslim roots, in an effort to rally support for Ukraine in the Muslim world, including the active recruitment of proxy fighters.

This was also the case in the early 90s between Azerbaijan and Armenian, where US front oil companies, under the control of the CIA, recruited Muslim fighters from Afghanistan to help level the battlefield. Azerbaijan was not doing well at the time against Armenian forces, and many of those same US imported fighters ended up carrying out acts of terrorism in Beslin and Moscow.

The Georgian National Security Agency and others also ran a cottage industry of selling Georgian passports to Arabs, weapons, and many of these fighters ended up in Bosnia and later Syria, Africa and fighting with the notorious Georgian Legion* as mercenaries. The topic of Muslims fighting for Ukraine is underreported.

There is an institutional history, in the region, of this practice. Many of the so-called Al-Qaeda* members paraded as terrorists were actually former Taliban fighters  brought into the region in the early 90s for use in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia (under the cover of Mega Oil in Azerbaijan, as has been well documented in by Georgian-based journalists).

There has always been a very cozy relationship between Chechen fighters and Georgian intelligence, which was backed by US intelligence. One only has to ask from “Where did all the money and weapons they needed to come from?”

Al-Qaeda* is, in fact, the name of a database set up by Saudi intelligence to keep track of all the USG contractors engaged in defeating the Russians in Afghanistan.  The Chechen link even stretches to Africa.  An intercepted Intel email reads:” Well, Georgia provides the important backstory and info, but you’re right, the market is pretty shallow, everything is connected to Georgia these days and also N. Africa – AQIM is a “big fear” and don’t forget about the guys in Somalia. Chechens are of more and more interest again as well. Three turned up dead in a fire-fight with the Kenyan Army on the border the other day – [this was a few years ago].”

So there is still opportunity for a breaking story, as it is possible that the same MO is being repeated in Ukraine. 

Too close for comfort!

So Umerov is close to the heartbeat of much of what is going on in Ukraine and the inner circle.

Could it be that Umerov’s appointment demonstrates that Ukraine is willing to enter into negotiations with Russia, most likely at the insistence of NATO partners, as Umerov’s claim to fame is his conflict resolution experience as a skillful negotiator? I highly doubt that!

According to CNN, Umrov, a Crimean Tatar, was born in Uzbekistan, where tens of thousands of the Muslim ethnic minority had been deported by Stalin in 1944. He moved to Crimea as a child in the dying days of the USSR. He told Forbes magazine in an interview last year that his personal background had influenced his role with prisoners of war.

“I survived the resettlement back home to my historical homeland in Crimea.”

Corrupt Warrior or Scapegoat 

Was it that Oleksii Reznik was too much of a warrior or too corrupt, and regardless, “good riddance”, as he is gone now? At the negotiation table, Umarov is a better choice. However, word has it that Rezkik may be slotted to be the next Ambassador to the UK, and perhaps that is a good choice, as he may have to stay there when this war is finally over. 

I would not want to be Reznik, living in Ukraine, when the body count of young soldiers and civilians, which were used as cannon fodder is actually revealed. If the people in Ukraine knew how many are dead and how many towns are destroyed…now being done by Ukraine itself in counteroffensive….they’d be furious at the US and its NATO partners. 

Direction of US foreign Policy 

The writing is on the wall, not only in terms of the direction that US foreign policy is heading, especially in the wake of the Ukrainian debacle, but in terms of the US political landscape. It is coming together like a perfect storm, corrupt politicians; mostly US based, and corrupt receivers of US foreign assistance, the aspiring NATO members (Ukrainians).

So much assistance has been provided to Ukraine with eyes wide, with no semblance of accountability. Meanwhile, inflation is predicated to substantially increase in the US in the wake of ever higher energy costs, and now some are only waking up to question the level of corruption in Ukraine.

Where to did all the money and weapons disappear to? 

Why they are starting to now ask why no substantial offensive results have been forthcoming in the much-touted Ukrainian offensive against Russia?  I really think the West is finally waking up and realizing they have lost, and half-time bell is about to ring; this is very scary.

There are no game-changing weapons at this stage of the game. However, some additional hired fighters, or additional amounts of money and second rate weapons systems might prolong the conflict till after the US elections. But in the end it will not make an iota of difference, except to the death toll.

The plight of Ukraine is self-inflicted and imposed from outside, namely from the warmongers back in the US.  In the aftermath of the downing of Prigozhin’s plane, such desperate moves are worrying, and the changes in HR are just part of a larger board game.    In actuality, Prigozhin had more experience due to his role as the head of the Wagner Group in Ukraine, Syria, and Africa.

Now the Ukrainians thought the greatest threat was eliminated, and they could rest easier, at least that is what they may be thinking. Planned changes in the Ukrainian MOD can bring about a change of the game rules, thus making members of the Wagner group looks like a bunch of Boy Scouts.

I have an idea for an article that would infuriate many, but I think getting rid of Prigozhin mid-war was the dumbest thing Putin could have done, if you want to believe the Western conspiracy theories.

The US feared them, Ukraine feared them. Even if they were not going back in, that fear was always there. Notice that since that threat appears to totally eliminated, in the eyes of some, Ukraine thinks it is doing much better, at least at first impression.

But Ukraine must show results in its offensive, and that is not going well, nor will it be easy with current troop levels, flagging levels of financial support and second rate military equipment. I am sure the CIA and MI6 are involved in the same old project—same MO

That is exactly why the shift in Ministers is especially threatening, as this conflict can take on more a Middle Eastern flavor, with covert money and fighters flowing into Ukraine so to prolong the bloodshed and to change the rules of the game in mid-play.

We should all bear in mind the horrendous blow-back from the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and more recently with the Americans and NATO, and do we really want to repeat the same scenario in Eastern Europe, with the risk of nuclear war?

*- banned in Russia


Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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