Ukraine Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Development Vasyl Lozynskiy, dismissed and arrested on charge of receiving a $400,000 bribe
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1706 GMT:
Two significant reports on tanks to Kyiv….
People “close to the decision” say Germany could give approval for Polish delivery of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine as soon as Wednesday.
US officials have told the Wall Street Journal that the Biden Administration is leaning towards supply of Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, with a possible announcement this week.
The announcement would be linked with Germany’s agreement to send a smaller number of its Leopard 2s and approval of the delivery of more Leopards by Poland and other nations.
A senior German official said that, following a January 17 phone call between US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the issue had been the subject of intense negotiation between Washington and Berlin.
UPDATE 1701 GMT:
Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says the country has enough coal and gas reserves for the rest of the winter, despite Russia’s wave of missile and drone strikes targeting energy infrastructure.
“For now all Russia’s attempts to plunge Ukraine into darkness have failed,” Shmyhal said. “We have enough reserves to continue and end the heating season in normal mode. About 11bn cubic metres of gas are stored in gas storages and nearly 1.2m tonnes of coal are in storages.”
UPDATE 1332 GMT:
A spokesperson for the German Government has said of Poland’s official request to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine (see 1103 GMT), “We will deal with the application with necessary urgency.”
UPDATE 1120 GMT:
Two deputy ministers, Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya, resigned from Ukraine’s Communities and Territories Development Ministry.
Another deputy minister, Vasyl Lozinskyi, was dismissed and detained last weekend when he allegedly was caught taking a $400,000 bribe (see Original Entry).
UPDATE 1108 GMT:
The heads of administration in five Ukrainian regions — Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Sumy, and Kherson — have been dismissed by the Ukraine Cabinet.
The Deputy Minister for social policy, Vitaliy Muzychenko, has also been fired.
UPDATE 1103 GMT:
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says Germany has received Warsaw’s official request for the re-export of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
Niemcy otrzymali już nasz wniosek o wyrażenie zgody na przekazanie czołgów Leopard 2 na Ukrainę. Apeluję także do strony niemieckiej o przyłączenie się do koalicji państw wspierających Ukrainę czołgami Leopard 2. To nasza wspólna sprawa, bo chodzi o bezpieczeństwo całej Europy! pic.twitter.com/9oMQihI83Z
— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) January 24, 2023
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he hopes for a quick response from Berlin:
I hope that this answer from Germany will come quickly, because the Germans are delaying, dodging, acting in a way that is difficult to understand.
We can see that they do not want to help Ukraine defend itself in a wider way.
The Prime Minister said Poland will ask the EU for compensation for the cost of the Leopard 2 tanks: “We will apply for reimbursement to the European Union, it will be another test of goodwill.”
UPDATE 0949 GMT:
Germany’s Scholz Government is still in a holding pattern over supply of Leopard heavy battle tanks to Ukraine, either directly or via third countries.
“One comment in advance, because the questions are coming anyway: There is no new status regarding the Leopard tanks,” German Defense Minister Pistorius starts his presser with NATO’s Stoltenberg.
“I have always said that a decision will be made shortly, and I still assume that” pic.twitter.com/tDFHoUBgWy
— Hans von der Burchard (@vonderburchard) January 24, 2023
Tobias Lindner, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, said, “At the end of the day, the decision will obviously be taken at the chancellery, in consensus by the government.”
UPDATE 0915 GMT:
Following Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s announcement of replacement of personnel — and with reports of the Defense Ministry purchasing military rations at inflated prices — Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov has resigned.
Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, cited the “media accusations” for his departure.
UPDATE 0905 GMT:
Moscow authorities have dismantled a makeshift memorial to the Ukrainian victims of Russia’s missile strike on a Dnipro apartment block on January 14.
The memorial, close to the monument of Ukrainian writer Lesya Ukrainka, appeared soon after the strike that killed at least 46 civilians. Police monitored people who came, taking away some of them. Last week photography was banned.
By Monday, flowers, candles, toys, and a picture of the destroyed Dnipro apartment building were removed. Four people were detained, and a police van is monitoring the area.
UPDATE 0808 GMT:
A Ukrainian military intelligence report has detailed the challenge of defeating Wagner Group mercenaries, prominent in Russia’s attacks in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
The report summarizes:
The deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society.
Assault groups do not withdraw without a command….Unauthorized withdrawal of a team or without being wounded is punishable by execution on the spot….
Assault infantry are not allowed to carry the wounded off the battlefield on their own, as their main task is to continue the assault until the goal is achieved. If the assault fails, retreat is also allowed only at night.
In an intercepted phone call, a soldier says of a colleague who tried to leave the frontline, “The Wagnerians caught him and cut his f**king balls off.”
The Ukrainian analysis says Wagner’s tactics “are the only ones that are effective for the poorly trained mobilized troops that make up the majority of Russian ground forces”.
The Russian Armed Forces may follow Wagner in replacing classic battalion tactical groups — relying on large, mechanized formations — with smaller assault units.
Meanwhile, some mobilized troops are thinking about switching to Wagner. One says in an intercept: “It’s f**king heaven and earth. So if I’m going to f**king serve, I’d better f**king serve there.”
UPDATE 0750 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed three civilians and injured three.
At least one civilian was killed and two injured the town of Chasiv Yar by an attack damaging several residential buildings.
UPDATE 0741 GMT:
Russians may now have pre-book to leave the country by car.
The head of Russia’s transport committee, Evgeny Moskvichev, introduced the measure in an amendment to the law on highways and road activities. If adopted, the provision will take effect on March 1.
Authorities intoduced electronic booking this month, ostensibly to speed up crossing of the border and to increase the “throughput of international automobile checkpoints”.
After Vladimir Putin’s announcement of mass mobilization on September 21, more than 1 million people left Russia. Most crossed land borders with Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.
Speculation is rising that Putin — to stave off Ukrainian advances or to pursue a renewed Russian offensive — will announce a second wave of mobilization.
UPDATE 0732 GMT:
German defense group Rheinmetall says it can deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if authorized by the Scholz Government.
A spokesperson says the manufacturer can deliver 29 Leopard 2A4 tanks by April/May and a further 22 around the end of 2023 or early 2024.
Last week Rheinmetall chief executive Armin Papperger said the company could not deliver battle-ready Leopard 2 tanks until 2024, “even if the decision to send our Leopard tanks to Kyiv came tomorrow”.
UPDATE 0726 GMT:
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has imposed sanctions against 21 representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Those sanctioned include Mikhail Gundyayev, the nephew of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Gundiayev is the Church’s representative at the World Council of Churches.
In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the sanctioned officials are supporting terror and genocide while cloaking themselves with faith.
UPDATE 0708 GMT:
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s Presidential office, has asked to be relieved of his duties.
Tymoshenko wrote on Telegram, “I thank the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the trust and the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute.”
There was no apparent connection with Zelenskiy’s subsequent announcement of personnel changes because of corruption.
Tymoshenko, 33, had been in his post since 2019, overseeing regions and regional policies. He oversaw media and creative content in Zelenskiy’s 2019 Presidential election campaign.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has announced personnel changes at senior and lower levels, following the detention of a deputy minister on a bribery charge and the claim of 150 officials in a network taking kickbacks.
On Sunday, the Ukraine Cabinet dismissed Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Development Vasyl Lozynskiy. He was arrested on Saturday, allegedly as he was receiving a $400,000 bribe, and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau said the money was a kickback for rigging a state procurement tender, with Lozynskiy and accomplices planning to keep part of the $46 million that the state allocated for the purchase of generators and other equipment last summer.
In his nightly address to the nation on Monday, Zelenskiy said:
There are already personnel decisions – some today, some tomorrow –regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in the regions and in law enforcement.
The President said State officials are barred from leaving the country during martial law, except for official business trips.
Hours earlier, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symoneko was accused by online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda of vacationing in Spain in December-January.
Symonenko already faced accusations of blocking corruption cases. He allegedly undermined a bribery investigation of Zelensky’s Deputy Chief of Staff Oleh Tatarov, transferring it from the independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine to the Security Service.
The Defense Ministry is also under scrutiny, as journalists and corruption watchdogs report purchases of military rations at inflated prices in a $355 million contract.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, responding to claims that he has ultimate responsibility for the corrupt contract, said the accusations are a smear campaign seeking to undermine trust in the Ministry and its reputation among international partners.