Ukraine sacks two senior ministers at heart of wartime economy

The Ukraine Recovery Conference in London

By Olena Harmash

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine's parliament voted on Thursday to sack the deputy prime minister for infrastructure and the farm minister, removing two senior officials who have held key portfolios for the wartime economy.

A majority of 272 lawmakers voted to dismiss Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who oversaw the reconstruction programme and championed efforts to set up a Black Sea shipping lane during a de-facto Russian blockade.

The exit of the 41-year-old comes amid plans to break up his powerful ministry into two separate portfolios, lawmakers said.

"We expect the government will make a decision to separate the ministries. Then later in the second half of May, the new appointments will be made," Yevhenia Kravchuk, a lawmaker from the ruling Servants of the People party, said on national television.

Kubrakov said on Facebook that his dismissal had not been discussed with him in advance and that he had not been given a chance to defend his tenure in a presentation to parliament.

Lawmakers also accepted the resignation of Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky who is being investigated for alleged involvement in an illegal acquisition of state-owned land.

The 44-year-old denies the allegations.

The government now has five vacant ministerial positions, said Oleksiy Honcharenko, a lawmaker from the opposition European Solidarity party.

There are over 20 ministerial portfolios in the current government.

Officials have repeatedly said they plan to reform the government's structure and cut the number of ministries as the country faces a huge budget deficit with most state revenues allocated towards defence efforts.

Iryna Friz, a lawmaker from the European Solidarity party, criticised any suggestion of increasing the number of ministries.

"This chaotic activity will hurt the efficiency of the ministries," she said. "This chaotic approach is not right and is damaging especially as we are now in a wartime period."

Kubrakov's giant ministry was set up in December 2022.

As Zelenskiy approaches the end of his five-year term this month and with no elections scheduled because of the war, some politicians have called on him to form a government of national unity instead.

(Additional reporting by Anastasiia Malenko; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Gareth Jones)