Monday, June 17, 2024

Zelensky sacks Ukrainian officials close to US: Report

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired several senior officials viewed as being close to the US, the Washington Post has reported. The apparent dismissals came amid Kiev’s growing frustration with its Western backers over military support.

The daily did not name all of the officials purged or say how many were dismissed, but noted that the dismissals had “alarmed” American officials. Those fired were “reformist officials who were willing to battle corruption inside their own ministries and who appeared especially close to Washington,” the newspaper reported.

The list of dismissed included Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kubrakov, whom the post described as having been “focused on infrastructure and rebuilding Ukraine.” Less than a year ago, Kubrakov was named in media reports as a likely successor to then-Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov.

Rifts within Ukraine’s leadership are nothing new, with Time Magazine reporting in November that many of Zelensky’s aides viewed him as “delusional,” and noted his growing feeling of “betrayal” at the hands of his Western patrons. Zelensky’s mandate as president expired earlier this month, after he refused to hold scheduled presidential elections in March.

Russia’s recent offensive in Kharkov Region has exacerbated the feelings of betrayal, the Washington Post reported. Some Ukrainian officials have blamed Russia’s successes on Washington’s refusal to allow them conduct long-range strikes into Russian territory, while others cited the US Congress’ months-long delay in approving a $61 billion military aid package. They argue Kiev’s forces would have been able to repel the Russian advance if more weapons had been delivered earlier.

”We believe in us, but you don’t,” an anonymous Ukrainian official said, referring to the US.

“This is the biggest issue right now in our relationship.”

None of the Ukrainians interviewed by the Post mentioned the role of rampant corruption in allowing the Russians to capture dozens of towns and villages in Kharkov Region this month.

According to local media, military and civilian authorities have embezzled millions of dollars intended for the construction of defensive fortifications in the region. Shortly after the graft scheme was made public, the Pentagon released a report stating that “endemic corruption persists” in Ukraine, with “bribes, kickbacks, and inflated procurement costs” hampering the country’s defense.

The Ukrainian officials who spoke to the Post, however, claimed the accusations are untrue, and that they are damaging the country’s reputation at a time when “Western interest in their cause is waning.”

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