Ukraine Fires 6 Deputy Defense Ministers as Fighting Continues in the East

Ukraine Fires 6 Deputy Defense Ministers as Fighting Continues in the East
An assault unit commander from the 3rd Assault Brigade runs to his position at the frontline in Andriivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Sept. 16, 2023. (Alex Babenko/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine—Six Ukrainian deputy defense ministers were fired Monday following the dismissal two weeks ago of Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in a corruption scandal, officials said, as heavy fighting continued in the east.

Russia claimed to have struck key Ukrainian facilities in air attacks overnight, hitting stores of Storm Shadow missiles and depleted uranium ammunition along with electronic intelligence centers and training facilities for Ukrainian military scouts.

The deputy defense ministers fired included Hanna Maliar, Vitalii Deyneha and Denys Sharapov, as well as the state secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Kostiantyn Vashchenko, were fired, according to the Telegram account of Taras Melnychuk, permanent representative of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Mr. Melnychuk provided no explanation of the firings, but the government has been investigating accusations of corruption in the military related to purchasing equipment. Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker who took over as defense minister, did not immediately issue a statement.

Mr. Reznikov was removed earlier this month after a scandal involving the defense ministry’s procurement of military jackets at three times their cost. Mr. Reznikov denied the allegations but resigned.

The reshuffling of the department came a day after Ukraine’s military claimed it captured the village of Klishchiivka from Russian troops after months of battles. Fighting continued Monday as troops tried to hold the village south of the Russian-held city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.

Retaking Klishchiivka is considered tactically important, allowing Ukrainian forces to further extend their gains around Bakhmut.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June that so far has been marked by small victories but no major breakthroughs. Despite being bolstered by NATO-standard weapons worth billions of dollars, Ukrainian military officials have said there are no quick solutions to puncture Russian defensive lines.

In his efforts to draw more support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is headed to the U.S. where he is expected at the White House and on Capitol Hill this week as he visits during the United Nations General Assembly. His visit to Washington comes as Congress debates President Joe Biden’s request to provide as much as $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

In other fighting, six people were killed and 16 injured over the past 24 hours as Russia claimed to have used long-range air-launched missiles and drones to strike U.K.-supplied missiles and depleted uranium ammunition that can be used to destroy tanks.