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Ukraine's Zelenskiy tells new defence minister to rebuild trust

Newly appointed Ukraine's Defence Minister Umerov meets Armed Forces commanders in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tasked new Defence Minister Rustem Umerov on Thursday with reducing red tape and increasing trust in his ministry after a series of corruption allegations.

Zelenskiy sacked Umerov's predecessor following the graft accusations levelled at the ministry by Ukrainian media, most notably over procurement. Military analysts said the shake-up would not have a big impact on Ukraine's war effort.

Presenting Umerov to senior military and defence officials, a day after parliament approved his appointment, Zelenskiy set priorities for him including developing international cooperation and guiding Ukraine towards NATO membership.

"Most importantly, we need more trust. Trust in the decisions that are being made, trust in the procurement that is carried out, trust in the supplies," Zelenskiy said.

He said that if changes were needed for the good of the soldiers, they should be made immediately.

"We need a new philosophy of attitude towards Ukrainian soldiers: people are not disposable," he said.

Umerov, 41, replaced Oleksii Reznikov, who had helped secure billions of dollars of Western military aid since Russia's invasion last year. Reznikov has not faced graft allegations himself but he was the victim of a smear campaign.

Umerov said his priorities would include making the ministry the main institution for the coordination of defence forces, enhancing the value attached to individual soldiers, developing Ukraine's military industry and fighting corruption.

He said he also aimed to strengthening the international coalition of allies during Russia's war on Ukraine and forging "probably even unexpected partnerships".

Zelenskiy said he was confident Umerov was capable of fulfilling all the tasks he had been set.

Before his appointment, Umerov headed Ukraine's main privatisation agency and was credited for overturning the institution and restarting the efforts to sell loss-making state-owned companies to private investors despite the war.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, Editing by Timothy Heritage)