General Poltorak quits the military to remain Defence Minister

As highlighted long ago, General Stepan Poltorak, the current Minister of Defence since the adoption of Law 8068 “On National Security” was faced with the decision to remain in the military and vacate his position of Defence Minister by 1st January 2019, or to leave the military in order to retain his position as Defence Minister.

“In effect, the current Defense Minister, General Stepan Poltorak, will be obliged to vacate the post he has held since October 14th 2014, or to retain it, he will be obliged to leave the military.

Article 16 is devoted to the restructuring of the General Staff and the armed forces.  The positions of Chief of the General Staff and Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are both filled by General Viktor Muzhenko.  The new statute when in force requires two separate individuals to hold the two posts.”

It appears that after 35 years of military service General Poltorak has decided to remain in politics and retain the position of Defence Minister.  He has thus, with effect of 13th October, left the Ukrainian military with immediate effect.

“Stepan Timofeevich Poltorak filed an appropriate report and I, frankly, with a very heavy heart, accepted the report about the dismissal of Ukrainian Army General Poltorak Stepan Timofeyevich from military service.  I appreciate the contribution of Stepan Poltorak to the revival of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and before that to the restoration and establishment of the National Guard of Ukraine, I decided that he should continue to lead the defense department as a civilian minister.” – President Poroshenko

Quite how long Gen (now Retired)/Mr Poltorak will remain as Defence Minister (and by default in politics) remains to be seen – for his position is quite probably directly associated with how President Poroshenko fairs in his re-election campaign.

No doubt should President Poroshenko manage to get re-elected then Mr Poltorak will soldier on (now metaphorically) and maintain his position as Defence Minister.  It seems unlikely that he could or indeed would want to continue under a different president – particularly under certain other candidates.

T’will be interesting to see whether the two Deputy Defence Ministers will change for they too must become and remain civilians with effect from 1st January 2019 per statute.

It must have been a difficult decision for Gen (now Retired)/Mr Poltorak as his future is now as uncertain as that of President Poroshenko in Ukrainian politics – and it is always difficult to leave an institution that requires a certain commitment and mentally.

In leaving the military, Mr Poltorak thanked the soldiers, sergeants, officers and generals with whom he served. “Especially those with whom I served the last four years, because these were the most difficult years in the life of the state and my life.”