KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has nominated a new defence minister and appointed a new armed forces chief in a shake-up of a military currently driving against Russian separatists despite moves for a new ceasefire.
Poroshenko told deputies that he wanted Valery Heletey, a 46-year-old colonel-general who heads security at the presidential and parliamentary administration, to replace acting defence minister Mykhailo Koval, his website said. He also appointed lieutenant-general Viktor Muzhenko, 52, a top official in the military drive against the rebels, to replace Mykhailo Kutsyn as head of the general staff.
Poroshenko was expected to seek endorsement for Heletey's nomination at a session of parliament on Thursday. But debate on "decentralisation" proposals for the regions, which is part of his peace plan, ran into trouble when a key coalition partner came out against them. The military shake-up follows Poroshenko's rejection of a new ceasefire on Monday night and his decision to resume a full offensive against the separatists in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine who have set up "people's republics" and said they want to join Russia.