Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Telegram Friday he was firing the directors of all the country’s regional military recruitment centers amid concerns of corruption — ranging from illegal enrichment to transporting draft-eligible men across the border in the middle of a wartime ban.
Zelenskyy said that the appointments would be offered to war veterans.
“This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery during war is treason,” he said.
So far, Ukrainian security services have cracked down on graft, charging senior officials with 112 criminal cases of bribery and engaging in corrupt practices. An additional 33 suspects are about to be charged.
Kyiv is battling corruption while fighting Russia’s full-scale invasion and hopes to join the European Union.
Russian airstrikes killed an 8-year-old boy in western Ukraine Friday, while Ukrainian drones targeted Moscow for a third consecutive day.
Several explosions were heard across Kyiv early Friday. Earlier, Mayor Vitali Klitschko had urged residents to go to air raid shelters and Ukrainian officials had issued a nationwide air raid alert.
Ukraine shot down a missile Friday near a children’s hospital in the city. Debris from the missile fell near the hospital in Kyiv, but there were no reported injuries.
Meanwhile, the airspace over two Russian airports – Vnukovo and Kalugo – was temporarily closed Friday because of Ukrainian drone flights. The airports have since reopened.
In its daily intelligence report Friday about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry said there is a “realistic possibility” that a “small number” of Wagner Group advisers will be present when Belarussian troops conduct an exercise in the Grodno area of northwestern Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders.
The British ministry said that Wagner advisers likely would act as trainers in the Belarus exercise. It also noted that the Belarussian Defense Ministry said the exercise in the Grodno area is “intended to incorporate lessons learnt by the Russian military in Ukraine.”
“Russia is almost certainly keen to promote Belarusian forces as posturing against NATO,” the British ministry said. However, it is unlikely the Belarussian forces will be deployed to Grodno “with the enablers it would need to make it combat-ready.”
On Thursday, a Russian missile hit a hotel United Nations staff members often used in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, leaving one person dead and 16 wounded, Ukrainian officials said.
“Zaporizhzhia. The city suffers daily from Russian shelling. A fire broke out in a civilian building after the occupiers hit it with a missile,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia also jas become a focal point of the war because it is the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the plant lost connection to its last remaining external line and was switched to a reserve line, state-owned power generating company Energoatom said Thursday.
“Such a regime is difficult for the reactor plant, its duration is limited by the project’s design, and it can result in failure of the main equipment of the energy unit,” Energoatom said on Telegram.
A blackout at the power plant is looming, Energoatom added.
Later Thursday, Ukraine’s navy said a new temporary “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea had started working. The first ships are expected to use it within days, the navy reported.
The corridor will be for commercial ships blocked at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and for grain and agricultural products, Oleh Chalyk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian navy, told Reuters.
Despite the opening of the corridor, the risk posed by mines in the Black Sea, coupled with the military threat from Russia, persisted.
The Biden administration has asked Congress to provide more than $13 billion in emergency defense funding to Ukraine and an additional $8 billion for humanitarian support through the end of the year.
The White House supplemental spending request for Ukraine may prove to be too much for Republicans, who are facing great pressure from the party’s presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, who has a tepid attitude toward the war, while polls show declining American support for the effort.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a new round of sanctions Friday, targeting prominent members of Russia’s financial elite, along with a Russian business association.
“Wealthy Russian elites should disabuse themselves of the notion that they can operate business as usual while the Kremlin wages war against the Ukrainian people,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “Our international coalition will continue to hold accountable those enabling the unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
As a result of today’s action, all property, and interests in property, of the persons named in the fresh sanctions who are in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked.