A number of senior Ukrainian officials resigned or was fired on January 24, as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledged to root out corruption from his administration amid a high-profile corruption scandal that threatens to erode hitherto unwavering Western support for Kyiv’s leadership.
The upheavals came when Poland sent an official request to Berlin to re-export its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Berlin received the request from Warsaw, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said in a tweet.
A German government source told Reuters that Warsaw’s request to re-export up to 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine had been received, although Germany did not immediately officially confirm this.
Germany was initially reluctant to supply such tanks to Kyiv itself or to allow third countries with Leopard tanks to send them to Ukraine.
But Berlin has come under intense pressure from Ukraine and several NATO allies to change its position and allow the Leopards to be exported.
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on January 24 that he was confident the alliance would soon find a solution regarding the delivery of main battle tanks to Ukraine.
“At this pivotal moment in the war, we need to deliver heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we need to do it faster,” Stoltenberg told reporters, after talks with Germany’s defense minister, Boris Pistorius.
On January 23, the German defense group Rheinmetall said it could deliver 139 Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine if needed over the next few months.
The Kremlin meanwhile said German tank deliveries to Ukraine would do “nothing good for future relations” between Berlin and Moscow. “They will leave a lasting mark,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Jan. 24.
The development on possible tank deliveries came as Ukrainian authorities moved to crack down on corruption, with three senior officials announcing their departure on Tuesday.
Early on January 24, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, announced on January 24 that he had tendered his resignation to Zelensky.
“I thank Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the trust and the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute,” Tymoshenko wrote on the Telegram message, adding, “Thank you to the armed forces for saving and defending our country “.
Shortly after Tymoshenko’s announcement, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was responsible for supplying the troops with food and equipment, also resignedciting “media accusations” of corruption.
A statement on the Defense Ministry website said Shapovalov’s resignation was “a dignified act” that would help maintain confidence in the ministry.
Also on January 24, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko was fired in what the prosecutor general’s office called an upheaval of senior officials.
A statement announcing his dismissal gave no reason for the decision but said it had been “according to his own wish”.
Two deputy ministers – Vyacheslav Nehoda and Ivan Lukerya – also resigned from the Ukrainian Ministry of Communities and Territorial Development on January 24.
Both Nehoda and Lukerya confirmed the moves on their Facebook pages.
The departures of the three officials came after Zelenskiy announced in his late-night address on January 23 that he would make staff changes at the top and bottom levels, following the most high-profile corruption scandal that has engulfed Ukraine. since the invasion of Russia.
The corruption scandal erupted on January 22, when the Ministry of Defense was accused by an investigative newspaper of overpaying suppliers for troop food. The provider said a technical error was to blame and no extra money was paid. The ministry said the charges were baseless.
On the same day, Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister was arrested on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 bribe for importing generators in September, an allegation he deny.
On the battlefield, the Ukrainian General Staff stated in its January 24 report that it repelled Russian attacks in 11 localities of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, enemy fire concentrated mainly in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions, where heavy fighting has been going on for months.
The head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said that three people were killed and three were injured by Russian shelling.
“On January 23, the Russians killed three residents of the Donetsk region: in Novopokrovskiy, Paraskoviyivka and Chasovoy Yar,” Kyrylenko said.
Russian forces also continued to shell Ukrainian positions in Zaporizhzhya, Kherson and Lyman, the General Staff said.
The front lines have remained virtually unchanged for two months despite heavy casualties on both sides and incessant Russian shelling.