Ukraine update: Three senior Kyiv officials resign in major staffing shakeup

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

 

Three senior Ukrainian officials resigned on Tuesday in a major personnel shakeup which Kyiv claims proves that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is serious about rooting out corruption in his government.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, and Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov both tendered their respective resignations Tuesday following President Zelenskyy’s announcement on Monday that he would be making “personnel decisions — some today, some tomorrow,” Reuters reported.

Neither official provided an explanation for their abrupt departures. Meanwhile, a deputy prosecutor general, Oleksiy Symonenko, was relieved of his post “according to his own wish,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said according to the report.

Ongoing high-level corruption allegations against Ukrainian government officials threaten to blight Kyiv’s chances of joining the European Union and NATO, and could threaten to stop the ongoing support from the West, which continues pouring billions of dollars into efforts to shore up Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. Zelenskyy ran for office in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform.

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

More personnel changes are expected in the coming days, according to the news service.

POLAND REQUESTS GERMANY’S PERMISSION TO SUPPLY TANKS

Warsaw has officially asked Berlin for permission to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced on Twitter Tuesday.

“The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks,” Blaszczak wrote. “This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!”

German officials had not publicly commented on the request at the time of this reporting.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday urged Ukraine’s allies to speed up weapons deliveries to Ukraine ahead of anticipated new Russian offensives this spring, The Associated Press reported.

“At this crucial moment in the war, we need to provide Ukraine with heavier and more advanced systems, and we need to do it faster,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday after talks with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin.

TURKEY FURIOUS OVER ANTI-MUSLIM PROTEST

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Sweden should not expect Ankara’s approval of its admission into the NATO military alliance in the wake of recent anti-Muslim protests in Stockholm led by pro-Kurdish groups. Erdogan has stalled Ankara’s parliamentary vote on Swedish and Finnish bids to the international alliance, accusing both countries of harboring Kurdish rebels Turkey considers to be terrorists.

Erdogan expressed outrage over the demonstration, during which activists burned a copy of the Quran, and condemned Swedish authorities for allowing the protest to take place directly in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm “under the protection” of security forces.

“It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said in his first comments regarding the weekend protests, saying Sweden must have calculated the consequences of permitting Paludan’s demonstration.

The Turkish leader also excoriated Swedish authorities for doing nothing as protestors waved flags representing pro-Kurdish groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

“So you will let terror organizations run wild on your avenues and streets and then expect our support for getting into NATO. That’s not happening,” Erdogan fumed, adding that, if Sweden won’t show respect to Turkey or Muslims, then “they won’t see any support from us on the NATO issue.”

Sweden and Finland both signed a joint memorandum with Turkey in June agreeing to designate the PKK as a terror group and promising to crack down on its activities in their respective countries in an effort to overcome Ankara’s objections.  Erdogan’s threat to nix Sweden’s NATO bid was likely welcome news to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who cited threats posed by the possible expansion of NATO along Russia’s borders as one of the reasons for the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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