A group of top Ukrainian officials, including a top military leader, left the government on Tuesday as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration grapples with allegations of fraud and corruption.
Some of the departures and resignations included the deputy head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko. The recent shakeup is the biggest in the Ukrainian government since its war with Russia began in February 2022, according to The New York Times.
Deputy Defense Minister Shapovalov resigned from office on Tuesday amid a ballooning scandal involving the military acquisition of overpriced provisions. A local Ukrainian outlet last week reported that the Ukrainian military had purchased food supplies at well-over market prices.
The Defense Ministry purchased eggs for the military at a price nearly one and a half times more than the market price for eggs in Kyiv, the Ukrainian outlet uncovered. The ministry paid 17 hryvnias (Ukraine’s currency equivalent to $0.46) per unit when the price for the same unit in the Ukrainian capital sits around 7 hryvnias ($0.19).
In another instance, the ministry paid 22 hryvnias ($0.60) per kilogram for potatoes when the price of a kilogram in Kyiv is around 9 hryvnias ($0.24).
The Defense Ministry announced on its Telegram channel that Shapovalov was stepping down. It denied that Shapovalov committed any wrongdoing, but stated that he was leaving his post so as “not to pose a threat to the stable supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a result of a campaign of accusations related to the purchase of food services,” according to POLITICO.
Deputy Prosecutor General Symonenko was dismissed by Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin on Tuesday following revelations that the deputy prosecutor general left Ukraine to vacation in Spain in late 2022. No reason was given for Tymoshenko’s departure from the president’s office, though recent reports suggested he had conflicted with his boss.
Corruption allegations have hit Kyiv as the Ukrainian government is trying to convince Western governments that it has made significant strides in purging corruption. The European Union has tied Ukraine’s potential entry into the European Union to changes in Ukrainian law and its justice system, as well as rooting out corruption and embezzlement from Ukraine’s government.
Ukraine’s corruption problems could also cause problems in its war efforts, as well. The country has relied on significant amounts of military and economic aid from Western governments since the Russian invasion began.
In the United States, Republicans in the House have pledged greater oversight over additional aid to Ukraine. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) has stated that no more “blank checks” should be sent to Ukraine.