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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 24 2023. Picture: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 24 2023. Picture: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

Kyiv — Several senior Ukrainian officials resigned on Tuesday in a shake-up that Kyiv said showed President Volodymyr Zelensky is in tune with society over corruption allegations.

More personnel changes are expected in the coming days ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, which largely froze domestic politics as political rivalries were put aside to focus on Ukraine’s survival.

The departure of officials including a deputy prosecutor-general, a deputy head of the president’s office and a deputy defence minister followed an announcement by Zelensky on Monday of “personnel decisions — some today, some tomorrow”.

“Zelensky’s personnel decisions testify to the key priorities of the state ... The president sees and hears society. And he directly responds to a key public demand — justice for all,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior Zelensky adviser.

The president’s office said it accepted the resignation of Kyrylo Tymoshenko as its deputy head. Tymoshenko gave no reason for his exit.

The 33-year-old worked on Zelensky’s election campaign and had been in his post since 2019, overseeing Ukraine’s regions and regional policies. He was criticised by Ukrainian media for driving sports cars during the invasion, but he denied wrongdoing and said the vehicles were rented.

A deputy prosecutor-general, Oleksiy Symonenko, was removed from his post “according to his own wish”, the prosecutor-general’s office said.

Symonenko was criticised for what media outlets said was a 10-day holiday with his family in Marbella in Spain over New Year despite the war with Russia. Symonenko has not commented publicly on those allegations.

Zelensky said in his nightly speech on Monday that officials will no longer to be able to travel abroad for purposes unrelated to government work.

Deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov tendered his resignation after a Ukrainian media report accusing the defence ministry of paying inflated prices for supplies of food.

The ministry said the allegations were groundless but that Shapovalov’s resignation was a “worthy deed” that would help retain trust in the ministry.

In another shake-up after the start of the war, the head of the SBU security service and the state prosecutor-general were removed from their posts last July. Zelensky considered them to be close allies, but said they failed to root out traitors in their organisations.

On Sunday, police said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 kickback over the import of generators last September, an allegation the minister denies.

David Arakhamia, head of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said officials should “focus on the war, help victims, cut bureaucracy and stop dubious business”.

“We’re definitely going to be jailing actively this spring. If the humane approach doesn’t work, we’ll do it in line with martial law,” he said.


On the battlefront, front lines have been largely frozen in place for two months despite heavy losses on both sides.

Ukraine says Western tanks would give its ground troops the firepower to break Russian defensive lines and resume their advance. But Western allies have been unable to reach an agreement on arming Kyiv with tanks, wary of moves that could cause Moscow to escalate.

Berlin, which must approve Leopard re-exports, has said it is willing to act quickly if there is a consensus among allies.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country borders Ukraine, said Warsaw would seek permission to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv and was trying to get others on board.

Germany is not blocking the re-export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the EU’s top diplomat said on Monday.

American legislators have pressed their government to export M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, saying even a symbolic number would help push European allies to do the same.

Britain has said it will supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks. French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the possibility of sending Leclerc tanks.

Moscow sought to apply its own pressure.

“All countries which take part, directly or indirectly, in pumping weapons into Ukraine and in raising its technological level bear responsibility” for continuing the conflict, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Spring offensives

Ukraine and Russia are both believed to be planning spring offensives to break the deadlock in what has become a war of attrition in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“If the major Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the ruin of Russia and Putin,” Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told news site Delfi.

One person was killed and two injured in Russian shelling of a residential district of the town of Chasiv Yar on Monday that damaged at least nine high-rise buildings, Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk region, said on Telegram.

“The Russians are deliberately terrorising and killing the civilian population. And they will pay dearly for this,” he said.

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.

In the 11 months since invading Ukraine, Russia has shifted its rhetoric on the war from an operation to “denazify” and “demilitarise” its neighbour to casting it as defence against an aggressive West. Kyiv and its Western allies call it an unprovoked act of aggression.

On Monday, the new general in charge of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine warned that modern Russia had never seen such “intensity of military hostilities”, forcing it to carry out offensive operations.

“Our country and its armed forces are today acting against the entire collective West,” chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov told the news website Argumenty i Fakty.

Military reforms, announced in mid-January, could be adjusted to respond to threats to Russia's security, which include Sweden and Finland’s aspirations to join Nato and “the use of Ukraine as a tool for waging a hybrid war against our country”, he said.

Ukraine imposed sanctions on 22 Russians associated with the Russian Orthodox Church for what President Zelensky said was their support of genocide under the cloak of religion.


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