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Volodymyr Zelensky announces he has dismissed Ukraine’s defence minister

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that he has dismissed his defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

In his nightly address Mr Zelensky said Mr Reznikov, who has led the ministry since before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, will be replaced by Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar politician.

He said he made the decision because the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large.

He said: “I have decided to replace the Minister of Defence of Ukraine,” he said on his official Telegram account.

“Oleksiy Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war.

“Now Rustem Umerov should lead the Ministry.”

Mr Umerov, 41, a politician with the opposition Holos party, has served as head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine since September 2022.

He was involved in the exchange of prisoners of war, political prisoners, children and civilians, as well as the evacuation of civilians from occupied territories.

Mr Umerov was also part of the Ukrainian delegation in negotiations with Russia over the UN-backed grain deal.

Mr Zelensyk’s announcement comes as Ukrainian generals have claimed they have breached Russia’s first line of defences in the south of the country, in a sign its counter-offensive launched in June is gathering pace.

Kyiv’s troops have made small territorial gains so far in the offensive – but military leaders told The Observer they are now ”between the first and second defensive lines,”

Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s defence ministry, said: “Yes, it’s true

“Little by little, I think we’re gaining momentum.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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