Defense Minister likely to be replaced

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is likely to soon be dismissed, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Aug. 31, citing government sources.

His potential replacement is Rustem Umerov, the chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, according to Ukrainska Pravda's sources.

The reports about Reznikov's likely dismissal come amidst a procurement scandal in the Defense Ministry.

Earlier in August, an investigation by Dzerkalo Tyzhnia said that the ministry had signed a contract with a Turkish company in September 2022 on the purchase of $33 million worth of "winter" clothes for the military, which were, in fact, summer clothes.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia also uncovered that the documents accompanying the shipment had been manipulated. The price of some jackets worth around $29 was in another document reportedly "amended" to $86.

The investigation added to the pressure against the defense ministry's leadership, already facing several corruption scandals, such as the procurement of food products for the military at inflated prices uncovered in January.

Reznikov said on Aug. 25 that he is ready to resign if the reports that the military procured uniforms for an inflated price are confirmed.

Yaroslav Zhelezniak, a lawmaker for Holos, said on Telegram that Reznikov could be moved to the post of ambassador of Ukraine to the U.K.

President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.K., on July 21.

Reznikov was appointed Defense Minister in 2019, having previously held the position of Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories.

The minister began his career as a lawyer and headed a high-profile law practice before entering politics in 2014 upon his election to Kyiv City Council.

In 2020, Reznikov became a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, following his appointment in 2019 to become a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group.

The group was a negotiation format that was formed in 2014 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to facilitate a resolution between Ukraine and Russia following Russia's invasion of Donbas.

Russia deploys air defence from Kuril Islands to Ukraine's border – media

Russia has taken away anti-aircraft missile defense systems from the Kuril Islands, which have been stationed there since 2020; they have probably been transferred for use in the war against Ukraine.

Military expert Yū Koizumi from the University of Tokyo noticed the disappearance of air defense systems. He also expressed confidence that the Russian military had taken old tanks and artillery from the Kuril Islands. According to him, the weapons stored at the military facility on Sakhalin will be sent to the front in Ukraine.

As for air defense, Koizumi notes that it is about the S-300B4 systems. They were placed in Kasat Bay and near Yuzhno-Kurilsk.

Last September, numerous transporters carrying S-300B4 missiles, radars, and other equipment were spotted at both military stations.

Koizumi believes that troops from the Far East are also being transferred to Ukraine. According to the military expert, the elite marine brigade based in Vladivostok suffered heavy casualties in the fighting, and some residents of Iturup and Kunashir islands have died after being mobilized.

Up to 6 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain has been stolen by Russia – US Congress

A US Congress report

Russia has stolen almost six million tonnes of Ukrainian grain harvested last year in the temporarily occupied territories.

The US Congress cited data from a US intelligence assessment based on satellite images and reports from open sources.

According to the report, to export the stolen Ukrainian grain, Russia used cargo vessels that could sail along the coast of Turkey, delivering cargo to ports in Syria, Israel, Iran, Georgia, and Lebanon.

However, Congress cannot confirm whether the buyers of these cargoes were aware of the Ukrainian origin of the grain.

The Russians continue to export stolen grain from Ukraine, using the port in temporarily occupied Berdiansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

According to a NASA Harvest study, Russia has stolen at least US$1 billion of Ukrainian grain.

The Financial Times has published an investigation using a single vessel as an example to show how Russia is trading in Ukrainian grain stolen from Zaporizhzhia Oblast.