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    Ukrainian National Guard Commander Poltorak Replaces Heletei as Defense Minister

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    The Ukrainian parliament voted to appoint National Guard Commander Stepan Poltorak to the post of the country's defense minister, relieving Valeriy Heletei of his duties Tuesday.

    Updated 1:05 p.m. Moscow Time

    KIEV, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian parliament voted to appoint National Guard Commander Stepan Poltorak to the post of the country's defense minister, relieving Valeriy Heletei of his duties Tuesday.

    A total of 245 lawmakers supported the candidacy of Poltorak, who was nominated by President Petro Poroshenko Monday.

    Poroshenko tasked the new defense minister with creating a "powerful system of defense" and revising the procurement of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    "I tasked him [Poltorak] with creating a powerful system of defense of Ukraine and revising the procurement and logistics system of the troops, including with regard to positive experience obtained by the National Guard of Ukraine," Poroshenko said Tuesday.

    293 Ukrainian lawmakers voted in favor of relieving Heletei of his duties of defense minister, with a minimum of 226 "yes" votes having been required. President Poroshenko approved Heletei's resignation Sunday.

    Heletei came under heavy criticism over Kiev's military failures in the east of the country, including the disastrous battle for Ilovaisk [a town in the Donetsk region], in which at least 200 servicemen died when encircled by self-defense forces.

    Ukrainian military forces have been fighting independence supporters in the country's southeastern regions since mid-April, when Kiev launched its military operation in the area in response to local residents' refusal to recognize the new government, which came to power as a result of the February coup.

    According to the latest UN estimates, almost 3,700 people have been killed in Ukraine and over 8,800 have been wounded since the start of the Kiev military operation.

    Tags:
    Verkhovna Rada, National Guard, Valeriy Heletey, Petro Poroshenko
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