KIEV: President Petro Poroshenko dismissed Ukraine’s third defence minister of the year Sunday in a surprise decision ahead of high-level talks with Moscow on bringing peace to the Western-backed former Soviet republic.
Poroshenko’s official website said he would nominate a new defence chief on Monday after “accepting the resignation” of Valeriy Geletey, who was only appointed in July.
The sacking highlighted a sense of failure that has enveloped the once-proud force as the six-month conflict with pro-Russian rebels drags on and the death toll from fighting approaches 3,400.
The military’s performance has humiliated Ukrainians who had been celebrating the success of a bloody popular uprising that ousted the then Kremlin-backed leader in February and propelled Kiev on its Westward course.
Geletey’s removal threatened to undermine Poroshenko’s position ahead of a crunch meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Milan on Friday that will also include German Chancellor Angela Merkel.