Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has launched a major offensive against corruption plaguing the country.
Ukraine on Wednesday launched a wave of searches targeting administrations, civil servants and personalities, the authorities ensuring that the fight against corruption is a priority in the context of the war effort and Western aid.
In his daily message on the Internet, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Security Service of Ukraine, the State Investigation Bureau, the Economic Security Bureau and the Prosecutor's Office carried out dozens of searches and other actions in different regions and against different people in criminal proceedings. Justice will be done, he said.
The head of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU), Vassyl Maliouk, clarified that this was a campaign to strike a blow at the enemy within. This is only the first step, he claimed, and we are not going to stop there, vowing to handcuff those who have the audacity to harm the world. #x27;Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities say the raids targeted former interior minister Arsen Avakov, the Ukrainian taxman and the home of the billionaire Igor Kolomoiski, while the direction of the Customs was sacked. Senior Ministry of Defense officials were also visited by investigators.
The former Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (left) is one of the personalities targeted by this offensive against corruption.
The raids come a week after the sacking of a series of senior officials in the wake of a corruption case involving army supplies, the first major scandal since the incident. Russian invasion nearly a year ago.
In addition, Kyiv is hosting a summit on Friday with the European Union (EU), which has made the struggle anti-corruption a condition for Ukraine's accession to the European bloc. It will be preceded by a meeting of members of the European Commission and the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine, whose war effort largely depends on European support and the United States, is challenged to curb the financial shenanigans so as not to disgust the allies.
The SBU on Tuesday released footage of the search of Mr. Kolomoiski's home, part of a 40 billion Hryvnia [approximately 1.4 billion Canadian dollars] embezzlement case involving oil companies. This billionaire with a sulphurous reputation was close to Volodymyr Zelensky before the latter distanced himself.
The State Investigation Bureau carried out searches targeting the head of the Kyiv tax office, accused of embezzling several million dollars.
Finally, investigators have handed notices to senior Defense Ministry officials officially making them suspects, including a deputy minister, who was recently sacked for his alleged role in a contract at overvalued prices for food products for soldiers.
If this does not seem to be the case in this case, Westerners would be very unhappy if the billions of dollars paid in aid over the past year to repel the Russian invader were diverted. In the wake of this affair and on the orders of Mr. Zelensky, senior Ukrainian officials had been forced to leave after being involved in shady business.
On January 25, Berlin gave permission to the allies to re-export the famous Leopard tanks to a third country, Ukraine. (File photo)
kyiv is also engaged in a race against time to obtain more powerful armaments. Ukraine in particular wants high-precision missiles with a range of over 100 kilometers to destroy Russian supply lines to overcome its manpower and armament deficit.
< p class="e-p">So far, the West has refused to deliver these systems and planes for fear of provoking further Russian escalation. But US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he would discuss it with his Ukrainian counterpart.
Already, after long procrastination, Europeans and Americans have given the green light to this month to deliveries of modern heavy tanks, even if their number still remains below what kyiv claims.
Many observers believe that both kyiv and Moscow are preparing new offensives. After a series of humiliating setbacks in the fall, Russia mobilized hundreds of thousands of reservists.
The army, associated with the paramilitary group Wagner, has also intensified the fighting, in particular to take Bakhmout, a city in the east that it has been shelling since the summer. In recent weeks, Moscow has even claimed the capture of several neighboring localities. Further south, Russian soldiers also launched an offensive on the town of Vougledar.
Nina Kovalenko, 66 , cries in front of the body of her son Mykhailo Kovalenko, 34. He was killed in a Russian strike on the town of Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine on January 28, 2023.
The more time passes, the more the situation worsens, told AFP Oleksandre, 45, a Ukrainian soldier who fires a mortar from his post installed five kilometers from this city.
Roman, the 35-year-old commanding officer of the unit, claims to hold on, but notes that he is outnumbered: They have equipment, they have weapons and they have more people than us.
For its part, Russia insists that it will continue its assault at all costs, also ensuring that the delivery of longer-range missiles to Ukraine would not change the given. This would imply additional efforts for us, but it will not change the course of events, estimated the spokesperson for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov.
Russian diplomacy has also warned that it would consider possible Israeli arms deliveries to Ukraine as legitimate targets, after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he was considering the matter.