David Arakhamia, the faction head of Ukraine's ruling party "Servant of the People" revealed that the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) will vote for the resignation of Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov at its next plenary session. Reznikov will be succeeded by Kirill Budanov, head of the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate. Reznikov will remain in the cabinet and is slated to replace Pavel Ryabikin as Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine.
Ukrainian political scientist Vladimir Fesenko explained the change: "The problem is that it is necessary to establish strict order and strengthen discipline in the Ministry of Defense. That is why they wanted to appoint Budanov, so that he, as a military man, would do that. We need people who would conduct a proper administrative and financial audit. I think this is already being done by law enforcement agencies. It is necessary to understand that there is a war going on and the Ministry of Defense is one of the key departments within the framework of the war, and therefore, the interests of defense and national security are in the first place."
In Russia, the upcoming appointment of Budanov, who was responsible for some operations within Russia, is seen as a harbinger of further escalation by Ukraine.
Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine warned that if Kirill Budanov, is appointed Ukraine's Minister of Defense, Kyiv can be expected to strike Russian territories, primarily in the Crimea, with long-range weapons.
According to Korotchenko, if a "professional saboteur and terrorist Budanov" is appointed, Western political and military figures will sit at the same table with the "Ukrainian Bin Laden" at Ramstein Air Base, which is unlikely to embarrass the U.S. and NATO.
Moskovskiy Komsomolets senior commentator Mikhail Rostovsky wrote a column titled "Collective Budanov: How The Crisis In Ukraine's Defense Ministry Will Affect The Course Of The SVO [Special Military Operation]" where, in more restrained language than that of Korotchenko, the columnist essentially agreed that the appointment, even if it does not go through, represents a hardening of Ukraine's position. Even in the midst of war, Ukraine could have been expected to realize that "a professional organizer of terrorist acts has no place in the office of Ukraine's defense minister." According to Rostovsky, the prevailing mood in Ukraine guarantees the elevation of people like Kirill Budanov. If Budanov does not ascend to the post of defense minister, the position will be occupied by someone who holds similar opinions.
Rostovsky's column follows below:
Kirill Budanov (Source: RBC.ru)
Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor of Germany, stated the other day that he reached "a consensus" with Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding the issue of official Kyiv renouncing the use of Western weapons to strike at "old" [pre-2014] Russian territory. Upon hearing Mikhail Gorbachev's favorite word, I immediately recalled another expression that was popular during the reign of that General Secretary. "Trust, but verify," as the U.S. President Ronald Reagan used to say during those years.
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Incidentally a "verification word" [a Russian grammar term for a word used to check the spelling of words originating from the same root] has appeared – Budanov. Not everyone is aware of the existence of such a character as Kirill Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
But everyone has heard about one of the "intelligence operations" he orchestrated: a terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge in October of last year. Earlier this week, this 37-year-old "harnyj chlopiec" [handsome guy in Ukrainian] almost became Ukraine's new Defense Minister.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly. But all of a sudden official Kyiv "has changed the agenda" and postponed consideration of the issue. As the official (or semi-official) version circulated, there was information that Budanov was a career military man, and his transfer to civilian status (according to the law, the head of the Ukrainian military department must be a civilian) requires a long time, you see.
Well, this is most convincing! After all, actions lying outside the constitutional framework, such as banning parliamentary parties and major media outlets, require a few seconds (or however long it takes Zelensky to sign a decree). On the other hand, the transformation of Major General Kirill Budanov into an "art historian in civilian clothes" (a secret service officer always remains a secret service officer) cannot do without lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
It's clear that something else put the brakes on Kirill Budanov's nearly accomplished career advancement. It's also clear that this very "something else" is hardly the following consideration: a professional organizer of terrorist acts has no place in the office of Ukraine's defense minister.
Political analysis in general is a very inaccurate science (or, as some believe, not a science at all). Contemporary Russian analytics concerning Ukraine is doubly inaccurate. Moscow and Kyiv are now separated, and not even by barricades but by a front line. And it's quite difficult to see anything across this front line. But here are the conclusions that can be drawn on the basis of what can be observed: the important thing is not that a man like Kirill Budanov has yet to become Ukraine's defense minister, what's important is that he almost became one.
In November 1927, the head of the Soviet trade unions, Mikhail Tomsky, stated at the Leningrad regional conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, "Comrades, amidst the dictatorship of the proletariat there can be two or four parties, but only under one condition: one party will be in power and all the rest – in prison." Equally, in the context of Zelensky's de facto dictatorship in Ukraine, there can be any number of "parties," favoring the normalization of relations with Russia – but only in prison.
However, this does not mean that within the monolithic anti-Russian bloc that currently represents the Ukrainian political elite, there are no different opinions on the future relations between Kyiv and Moscow. What exactly the nature of these different opinions is, what is the relative [political] importance of their proponents, all that, and much else, is yet unknown to us.
What we do know is that Ukraine's soon-to-be Defense Minister Kirill Budanov belongs to the most anti-Russian part of the Ukrainian political spectrum, to the ideologues of total enmity, to those, who act following the motto "the end justifies the means." Of course, I am not writing these lines to express outrage once again. What is the practical point of being outraged when the fighting is in full swing and there is no end in sight? Let me immediately move on to the practical conclusion.
And this conclusion is yet another confirmation of the thesis I just voiced: the conflict in Ukraine is still at a stage that precedes a new escalation. Official Kyiv still has no desire to "put out the fires." Instead, it harbors a desire (and past experience of such desires becoming reality) to act outside the framework of the "consensus," in which Chancellor Scholz of the Federal Republic of Germany puts his trust.
Well, let's see who will eventually replace Oleksiy Reznikov, the Ukrainian Defense Minister discredited by the corruption scandal, in that post. Even if it is another professional lawyer with the outward appearance of a kindly university professor, like that of Reznikov, there should be no illusions.
At different times, different characters of representatives of a political elite are most in demand. The most desirable type of a representative of Kyiv's political elite in the early days of February 2023, is, alas, the "collective Budanov." The career of the specific "individual Budanov" may not take off, because he has failed to build a relationship with the powerful heads of Zelensky's presidential staff (at least, that is what the informed Kyiv media says). But these are minor details.
Mikhail Rostovsky (Source: Russian.rt.com)