President Volodymyr Zelensky named Rustem Umerov as his nominee to replace Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov, citing the need for “new approaches” in its war with Russia. 

“Oleksiy Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large. Now Rustem Umerov should lead the Ministry,” Zelensky said Sunday in a statement.

He said that Umerov, a Crimean Tatar, “does not need any additional introductions,” adding that he expected the Parliament to support the candidate.

Umerov was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada to be chairman of Ukraine’s State Property Fund in September 2022 and was tasked to lead the processes of privatization and lease in the state.

Umerov, 41, is a lawmaker in the country’s Holos party — the opposition to Zelensky’s party. Throughout his time in public service, he has taken on critical roles in aiding Ukraine’s efforts against Russia by serving as a chief negotiator for the Black Sea grain deal last year and by negotiating for the release of prisoners.

“I survived the resettlement back home to my historical homeland in Crimea,” he told Forbes in an interview last year. “I know what reintegration is, and I know what temporary occupation is. Therefore, it is not a blanket statement to me what human rights are. For the last eight years I have been involved in the issue of exchange of political prisoners and prisoners of war. I am very concerned about this matter.”

He was also one of the Ukrainian peace negotiators who, alongside Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, reportedly showed symptoms of poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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