Ukraine fires 6 deputy defense ministers as heavy fighting continues in the east
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.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dismissed Volodymyr Havrylov, Rostyslav Zamlynskyi, Hanna Maliar, Denys Sharapov, Andriy Shevchenko and Vitaliy Deynega from the position of Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/HOWgwp7SRE— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) September 18, 2023
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.
Reznikov was removed earlier this month after a scandal involving the defense ministry’s procurement of military jackets at three times their cost. Reznikov denied the allegations but resigned.
The reshuffling of the department came a day after Ukraine’s military said it captured the village of Klishchiivka from Russian troops after months of fierce battles. Fighting continued Monday as troops tried to hold the village south of the Russian-held city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.
Its recapture followed the retaking of the nearby village of Andriivka .
"The enemy is trying with all his might to regain lost positions," Maliar said in a briefing Monday before she was fired. "Therefore, our fighters hold back the enemy’s attacks there and are entrenched at the achieved frontiers."
Retaking Klishchiivka is considered tactically important, allowing Ukrainian forces to further extend their gains around Bakhmut.
In other fighting, six civilians 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.
"The goal of the strike has been fulfilled, all the designated facilities have been struck," the ministry said without providing specifics.
The claims appeared to contradict Ukraine’s assertion that it intercepted all 17 cruise missiles launched by Russia and 18 of 24 Shahed drones in the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Odesa early Monday.
Russians attacked residential areas in eight cities and villages in the Donetsk region, including Avdiivka and Kurdiumivka, killing one and wounding four, it said. Five artillery attacks in Kherson killed one person and wounded another. In the nearby town of Beryslav, Russians dropped explosives from a drone near the local bus station, injuring four people, the presidential office said.
Oleh Kiper, regional governor of Odesa, said a recreational facility in the town of Vylkovo was damaged in the attack but no casualties were immediately reported. Vylkovo, often referred to as the "Ukrainian Venice" because of its numerous canals, is located in the Danube delta on the border with Romania.