An assistant to President Volodymyr Zelensky said that many top Ukrainian officials resigned on Tuesday in the greatest leadership shakeup of the conflict with Russia thus far as a response to popular demands for "justice."
Not all of the resignations, but some of them were, were connected to accusations of corruption. International pressure is mounting on Ukraine to demonstrate that it can be a trustworthy steward of billions of dollars in Western assistance despite its history of corruption and unstable government.
In an evening video speech, Zelensky said that "there are already personnel choices - some today, others tomorrow - about officials at different levels in ministries and other central government entities, as well as in the provinces and in law enforcement."
Mykhailo Podolyak, a friend of Zelensky, tweeted: "The president is aware of society. Additionally, he explicitly addresses a crucial societal need for justice for everyone."
On Tuesday morning, a deputy general prosecutor, a deputy minister of defence, and the deputy chief of staff in Zelensky's own office were among those who resigned or were sacked.
The adjustments were made two days after a deputy minister of infrastructure was detained on suspicion of stealing $400,000 from contracts to purchase generators, one of the first significant corruption scandals to come to light since the war's start 11 months ago.
The Defence Ministry said that following media claims of corruption that he and the ministry disputed, Deputy Defence Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of providing soldiers, resigned on Tuesday morning as a "worthy act" to maintain confidence. The government and its supplier both refuted the newspaper claim that the ministry overpaid for meals for the soldiers.
Oleksiy Symonenko, the deputy prosecutor general, was fired without explanation, according to the prosecutor's office. In the Ukrainian media, Symonenko had come under criticism for vacationing in Spain.
Zelensky imposed a prohibition on officials spending vacations overseas in his presentation, although he avoided mentioning any specific officials by name.
No one can afford the luxury of ignoring the conflict, he said. They will take their breaks outside of the civil service, if they so want.
The deputy chief of staff in Zelenskiy's office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, also announced his resignation without giving a reason. He had participated in managing the president's election campaign in 2019 and, more recently, had a responsibility for managing regional policies.
The adjustments represent an unusual upheaval of Kyiv's normally very steady wartime leadership. Zelensky has mostly remained with his team, which is made up of fellow political novices he brought into office when he was elected in a landslide in 2019 on the promise of ousting a corrupt political elite, with the exception of the purge of a spy agency in July.
Since Russia's invasion, corruption, according to Kyiv, has been reduced by a rise in nationalistic sentiment. However, the leader of Zelensky's Servant of the People party said on Monday that officials would be detained as part of an upcoming anti-corruption campaign that, if necessary, will impose martial rule.
"Spring Will Be Important"
Despite significant casualties on both sides, the war's front lines have remained essentially stationary for the last two months.
Despite last week's billion-dollar military assistance pledges from the West, Kyiv has still not received the hundreds of heavy combat tanks it believes it needs to breach Russian defences and reclaim land that has been captured.
The majority of defence specialists agree that German-built Leopard tanks are the most appropriate and widely accessible tanks. Berlin has so far refrained from either deploying them or promising to allow allies like Poland to send them.
According to the senior diplomat of the European Union, Germany is not obstructing the reexport of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
It is generally assumed that both Ukraine and Russia are preparing spring offensives to end the stalemate in what has evolved into an attrition war in eastern and southern Ukraine.
According to Vadym Skibitsky, deputy commander of the Ukrainian military intelligence, "Russia and Putin will be destroyed if the huge Russian operation planned for this period fails."
In the meanwhile, Russian troops attacked Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The military of Ukraine said on Tuesday that its troops had thwarted 11 assaults, 10 of which were in the Donetsk region, including the southern settlement of Klishchiivka and the Bakhmut town.
Russia said last week that it had taken Klishchiivka. While making some progress, Russian soldiers have been attempting for months to take control of Bakhmut.
Reuters was unable to confirm any combat reports.
Invading Ukraine in February of last year, Russia destroyed towns and massacred hundreds of citizens. In the second part of 2022, Kyiv reclaimed lost territory and declared its intention to expel all Russian forces after repelling an initial attack on the city.
Along with the Crimea that it captured from Ukraine in 2014, Moscow said in 2017 that it had annexed four of the Ukrainian regions that were only partly under its control.
This month, Moscow changed the entire structure of the military under the direct supervision of its chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov, at least the third time since the invasion.
Gerasimov clung to Moscow's stance that its "special military operation" is a sort of defence against a threat from the West in his first interview since assuming charge of the battlefield.
He said to the news outlet Argumenty I Fakty that "our nation and its military forces are now engaged in combat against the whole collective West."