Ukraine on Tuesday fired several top officials amid a broad anti-corruption drive, leading to questions about whether Kyiv had misused billions of military aid from the United States.
The Biden administration has dismissed concerns about Ukraine’s misappropriation of the funds, saying they are “not aware that any U.S. assistance was involved,” spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a daily briefing, The New York Times reported.
“We take extraordinarily seriously our responsibility to ensure appropriate oversight of all forms of U.S. assistance that we’re delivering to Ukraine,” he added.
“We’re still able to take steps to ensure that accountability.”
The shake-up of the Ukrainian government saw the removal of the deputy head of the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who has been accused by Ukrainian investigative journalists of using several expensive sports cars amid the war; and deputy prosecutor Oleksiy Symonenko, who had recently come under fire for jetting off with his family to Spain for a 10-day vacation amid the war.
Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapavalov also tendered his resignation after a report from the Ukrainian news website ZN.UA accused him of paying inflated prices for food supplies for the army. For instance, the defense ministry allegedly bought eggs at 17 hryvnias apiece, but the average price of an egg in the capital city of Kyiv is just about 7 hryvnias.
Ukraine also removed deputy infrastructure minister Vasyl Lozinskyi, who allegedly stole $400,000 intended for purchasing aid and generators and restoring facilities battered by the Russian missile strikes.
Anti-corruption investigators probing Lozinskyi said they also found $38,000 in cash in his office as well as piles of dollar and hryvnias notes.
Ukraine has a history of corruption. In 2021, Transparency International ranked the country 122 out of 180 countries in its ranking of corrupt states, making it one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
The series of dismissals came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree prohibiting government officials from traveling abroad for reasons unrelated to government work. Announcing the move in his Sunday address, Zelensky added that border-crossing procedures for government officials at all levels would be developed within five days.
Zelensky also hinted there would be a shake-up in his government, saying he “made personnel decisions” involving “officials of various levels in ministries and other central government bodies” and the law enforcement system.
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