Ukraine’s parliament confirms Rustem Umerov as new Defense Minister


The country’s newly appointed Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, made a solemn pledge on Wednesday to retake all territories currently under Russian military control. This commitment came in his inaugural statement after receiving approval from the Ukrainian Parliament.

Umerov, a prominent figure in the Crimean Tatar community, was nominated for the role by President Volodymyr Zelensky. During a parliamentary session, 338 out of 360 lawmakers present voted in favor of his nomination, signifying broad support for his appointment.

In a social media post following his confirmation, Umerov declared, “I will do everything possible and impossible for the victory of Ukraine — when we liberate every centimeter of our country and every one of our people.” He also expressed his determination to restore a normal and dignified life to Ukrainian cities currently under temporary occupation.

Rustem Umerov, at 41 years old, assumes his role at a critical juncture in Ukraine’s history, more than a year and a half into Russia’s invasion. This appointment follows corruption scandals within the defense ministry, underscoring the need for fresh leadership and reform.

President Zelensky, who endorsed Umerov’s nomination, called for “new approaches” in Ukraine’s defense ministry. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal expressed expectations for the new minister to promptly initiate and continue defense sector reforms.

Apart from his background in business, Umerov has actively participated in prisoner exchange negotiations and grain trade discussions. His deep involvement in the Tatar Muslim community of Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, is noteworthy. As Sergiy Leshchenko, an advisor to the presidential administration, highlighted, Umerov’s appointment represents the highest state post ever held by a Crimean Tatar, reflecting the community’s longstanding opposition to Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.

Umerov’s diplomatic credentials are also noteworthy. He possesses strong ties with Turkey, is fluent in Turkish and Arabic, and is proficient in English. These linguistic and diplomatic skills could play a crucial role in Ukraine’s international relations during his tenure as Defense Minister.

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