Zelensky carries out the biggest purge of his government as the West prepares the delivery of strategic tanks

Ukraine’s president has signaled the dismissal and resignation of several senior officials, many linked to corruption cases, which puts the country’s entry into NATO at risk. This, at a time when Germany and the United States are preparing to supply Leopard 2 and Abrams M1 tanks to Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in a statement on Tuesday the dismissal and resignation of various senior officials, including deputy ministers, leaders and even the president’s own adviser, as part of a government restructuring, where several of those affected were linked to scandals. and corruption charges.

This wave of exemptions marks the biggest upheaval in the country’s leadership since the start of the war, and comes at a crucial moment for Ukraine, which is seeking NATO membership and the handing over of military weapons by the ‘West.

This reorganization was carried out shortly after the arrest of the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Community Development, Vasil Lozinski, by the Ukrainian anti-corruption police, accused of having accepted bribes of 400,000 US dollars in the import of electric generators in September 2022, a time in which Ukraine suffered constant outages due to Russian attacks.

Along with Lozinski’s arrest, a journalistic investigation by Ukrainian media outlet NZ was published accusing the Ministry of Defense of buying food for the army at an excessive price, indicating that they were paying suppliers almost the triple the original cost. This was denied by the head of the ministry, Oleksii Reznikov, who stressed that the accusations were “baseless” and an “informative attack” aimed at undermining confidence in the ministry, which is why they will open an investigation for “disseminating misleading information”. “. .

“The ministry purchases the affected products according to the procedure established by law,” Reznikov said in his defense.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov during a meeting at the Ramstein base in Germany on January 20, 2023. Photo: AP

As a result, Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov, who was also responsible for the supply of food and equipment to the army, left his post due to the corruption charges against him. However, the Ministry of Defense denied this and saw Shapovalov’s decision as a move to maintain confidence in the department.

Faced with this scenario, Zelensky issued a statement on Monday evening in which he announced a reshaping of the military leadership, referring to the scandals at the Ministry of Defense and the measures he would take to eradicate corruption in high positions.

“I want this to be a signal to everyone that these actions or behavior violate the principle of justice. Of course, we mainly focus on defence, foreign policy and war issues, but that does not mean that I do not see or hear what is being said at different levels of society,” said Zelensky. Besides adding that they would bring “necessary and powerful changes” in the government, he announced the ban on civil servants leaving Ukraine for reasons unrelated to the needs of the state.

Sensitive victims

After Zelensky’s statement, the victims of his government did not wait. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, adviser to the presidency and who collaborated with him during his campaign in 2019, called for his dismissal, which was accepted by the president. Although the reason for his resignation was not specified, it is suspected that it was due to accusations over his connection to a corruption network linked to public works contracts in Dnipropetrovsk, Tymoshenko’s hometown.

Shortly after Tymoshenko’s resignation, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine reported via Telegram the resignation of Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko, the reason for which was not detailed. In the case, Pravda published that the prosecution allegedly asked Symonenko to resign when it was discovered that at the end of 2022 he had traveled to Spain with his family to celebrate the holiday season. year, an activity that was prohibited, in addition to using a car belonging to a Ukrainian businessman accused of tax evasion.

Along with these cases, the dismissal of five deputy ministers and five governors by presidential decree was announced. Among the deputy ministers are Shapovalov himself, Deputy Social Policy Minister Vitali Muzichenka, and Deputy Development Ministers Ivan Lukerya and Viachelsav Negoda, who announced their resignations via Facebook.

Regarding regional governors, Government Minister Oleh Nemchinov pointed to the dismissals of officials from Kyiv, Sumy, Zaporizhia, Kherson and Dnipropetrovsk, regions that were fundamental in the development of the war in Ukraine.

Regarding the reorganization of the government, the adviser to the presidency, Mykhailo Podolyak, spoke of the importance of dealing with these issues in a period like the one the country is currently going through. “He won’t close his eyes. During the war, everyone must understand their responsibility. The President sees and listens to society and responds directly to an essential public demand: justice for all,” Podolyak said on his Twitter account.

This situation is worrying for Ukraine because, in addition to reigniting one of the problems that has plagued the territory since its separation from the USSR, it is tarnishing its image at a crucial moment in the war, when the nation seeks to join NATO and to receive military aid from Western countries.

Leopard 2 and Abrams M1

However, despite recent scandals surrounding Ukraine, Western nations appeared close on Tuesday to a diplomatic agreement to supply a significant number of strategic main battle tanks to Kyiv.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported late Tuesday that Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz has decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries, such as Poland, to do so.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in front of a Leopard 2 tank giving a speech during his visit to a military base in Bergen on October 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters

However, a German government spokesman declined to comment. The Ministry of Defense was not immediately available for comment, Reuters reported.

Poland says it has formally sent a request to the German government to allow it to send some of its Leopard tanks to Ukraine, bringing Berlin closer to a long-awaited decision on allowing the heavy tank to be re-exported from NATO . “I hope Germany’s response will come quickly, because they are delaying, avoiding, acting in a way that is difficult to understand,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.

Meanwhile, US officials told Reuters that Washington may drop its opposition to sending some of its M1 Abrams tanks, in comments aimed at supporting the proceedings in Germany. However, State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to confirm the possible shipment of tanks.

“We’re not going to anticipate any potential announcements from other allies and other partners, we’re not going to anticipate anything more than what we have to say,” Price said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to CNN.

While the Abrams is seen as less suitable than the Leopard for Ukraine due to its high fuel consumption and difficulty in servicing, the move could encourage Germany to supply the Leopards, Reuters reported.

Kyiv has been asking for months for Western tanks it says it desperately needs to give its forces the firepower and mobility to break through Russian defensive lines and retake occupied territory. Scholz’s Social Democratic lawmakers have held back, wary of moves that might push Russia to escalate the war, and view NATO’s involvement in the conflict as a risk.

Source: Latercera


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