Kyiv fires all 6 deputy defense ministers


All six of Ukraine’s deputy defense ministers were dismissed Monday, the latest purge amid a flurry of corruption scandals that led to the dismissal of the defense minister two weeks ago.

Oleh Nemchinov, who leads Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers, said on Telegram the group had approved the dismissals by resolution. It was not immediately clear whether the firings were directed by new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or both.

Zelenskyy had cited the need for “new approaches and different formats of interaction” with the military and the Ukrainian public in announcing then-defense minister Oleksii Reznikov”s dismissal earlier this month. Ukraine Pravda reported all the deputy ministers resigned voluntarily at Umerov’s request, adding that none will be returned to their positions.

Revelations of graft involving weapons procurement have rocked the government in recent weeks. Zelenskyy was quick to assure allies funneling billions in cash and weaponry to Ukraine that the scandal did not involve international funds.

But as the war grinds on, the U.S. and other supporters have begun demanding closer accounting of how the money is being spent. The latest firings came days before Zelenskyy is scheduled to visit to Washington and lobby for President Joe Biden’s plan to provide up to $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.


Zelenskyy is expected to lobby for continued support for his country’s war effort at Tuesday’s opening of the 78th annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.

On the eve of the U.N. gathering in New York, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi denied his country has sent Russia attack drones to use against Ukraine, despite considerable evidence refuting his disavowal.

Russia’s economy is stronger than had been projected and could grow by 2.8% by year’s end, President Vladimir Putin said, even though the ruble dropped to a 17-month low against the dollar in August. Putin said GDP has returned to 2021 levels, the last full year before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set off a wave of sanctions that hampered the economy.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin took the oath of office for a third term at an inauguration ceremony in Moscow attended by Putin.

Poland barred entry of vehicles registered in Russia, an apparent attempt to curb the influx of Russian products banned by sanctions. Vehicles with Russian plates are now blocked by all five EU countries bordering Russia.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., met with Ukraine officials and soldiers Monday in Kyiv to assess the Ukraine’s military needs and discuss the value of tactical ballistic missiles. Biden is considering providing the missiles to Kyiv.

Kelly, a former Navy combat pilot and NASA astronaut, said the longer-range surface-to-surface missile system, combined with a “fourth-generation fighter” such as F-16s, could alter the course of the war. But he stressed the jets must be piloted and maintained by well-trained people. That training is now underway in multiple countries, and plans call for training Ukrainians in the U.S. next month.

“No single capability is going to make the difference between winning and losing,” said Kelly, who also praised Ukrainian forces for progress on the ground but said he wished the counteroffensive was moving faster.

For the first time since Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain agreement in mid-July, two cargo ships reached an Ukrainian port over the weekend, via a temporary corridor set up by Kyiv.

Russia has threatened hostile action against any ships in the Black Sea headed for Ukraine, but the Palau-flagged bulk carriers Aroyat and Resilient Africa docked Saturday at Chornomorsk in the southern Odesa province, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority said in a statement. 

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said Saturday the vessels will be delivering about 20,000 tons of wheat to African and Asian countries.

Putin has repeatedly turned down requests from the U.N. and others to rejoin the grain deal, saying Russia’s terms for distributing its grain and fertilizer have not been met. Exporting agricultural products through the Black Sea is much cheaper and efficient for Ukraine than its other options.

Ukraine will sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia for refusing to drop a ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, Taras Kachka, told POLITICO. The bans were designed to protect farmers in those countries from a surge in agriculture products that could drive down prices. A Russian blockade has made it difficult for Ukraine to send its products to markets in Africa and Asia.

Poland has been Ukraine’s strongest European ally, but the clash over agriculture products has hit Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party hard ahead of next month’s elections. Law and Justice, a conservative party, has strong ties to rural communities that have expressed outrage over the increase in Ukrainian agricultural exports. Slovakia, also a strong ally, has an election Sept. 30 and the leader in the polls has called for a halt in arms shipments and other support for Ukraine.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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