Six Deputy Defense Officials Removed After Corruption Accusations Surface

( – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired six defense officials amid a potentially damaging corruption scandal. The sackings come only weeks after Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was replaced by Rustem Umerov when claims emerged that equipment was procured at three times the market price. Reznikov denied any impropriety but agreed to resign.

The latest sackings include deputy defense ministers Hanna Maliar, Vitalii Deyneha, and Denys Sharapov, and state secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Kostiantyn Vashchenko. Taras Melnychuk, the permanent representative of the Cabinet of Ministers, announced the firings on social media but did not provide further details or reasons for the dismissal.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces say they are gaining ground and retaking control of areas lost to Russia. Ukraine’s troops took control of the village of Klishchiivka and nearby Andriivka, both close to the strategically crucial Russian-held city of Bakhmut.

Despite apparent gains, the corruption scandal may worry Zelensky as he appeals for greater international support, particularly from the United States. The President warned that Russian leader Vladimir Putin seeks to conquer territories across Eastern Europe and, unless stopped by Ukraine, will spark a third world war.

Zelensky has expressed concern about international support in the past, and in January, several ministers were fired before the President promised to crack down on corruption. Mikhail Alexseev, a San Diego State University political science professor, said Zelensky will desperately want to be seen as tackling lawlessness because his country “depends on economic and military aid for its survival.”

While Zelensky says he will prevent dishonesty and sleaze in his government, most of his people believe he is directly responsible for it. In a survey conducted in July by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 78% of Ukrainians said Zelensky is responsible for corruption and his government is a more significant threat to “entrepreneurship” than Russia. Fifty-five percent said international aid should only be provided on the condition that corruption is stamped out.

Copyright 2023,