Zelensky fires top military officials in startling move as Russia makes advances

Kyiv, Ukraine - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday dismissed officials responsible for military conscription in each region of the country, citing corruption allegations that he said could amount to treason.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired all regional military officials responsible for conscription, whom he accused of corruption.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired all regional military officials responsible for conscription, whom he accused of corruption.  © REUTERS

"We are dismissing all regional military commissars," Zelensky said in a post on social media, following a meeting with senior military leadership.

"This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery at a time of war is high treason," he added.

Kyiv has been conscripting Ukrainians for assault battalions for its counteroffensive against Russian forces to recapture territory controlled by Moscow's troops.

Russia captures two more villages in eastern Ukraine in significant advance
Ukraine conflict Russia captures two more villages in eastern Ukraine in significant advance

"During the inspection of the territorial recruitment centers, law enforcement agencies exposed cases of corruption," the presidency said in a separate statement.

It said Ukraine's general mobilization was a key area in which inspectors had uncovered instances of foul play.

These "pose a threat to Ukraine's national security and undermine confidence in state institutions," the statement said.

It added that Ukraine's security council recommended that the head of the army select replacements who have battlefield experience and were vetted by Ukraine's intelligence services.

Ukrainian civilians evacuated amid Russian gains

A blood transfusion center in the city of Kupiansk was recently hit by Russian missile strikes.
A blood transfusion center in the city of Kupiansk was recently hit by Russian missile strikes.  © via REUTERS

News of the firing came as civilians near the northeastern front line of the war were urged to evacuate as Russia ramped up an assault to recapture Kupiansk – where a blood transfusion center was recently bombed – and the surrounding areas of Kharkiv, a region which was won back by Kyiv's forces in September.

"Given the difficult security situation and the increasing amount of shelling by Russian terrorist forces in Kupiansk community, you have the opportunity to evacuate to a safer place," the city administration said.

It said residents could evacuate to Kharkiv, some 56 miles west, where they would have the option to move to safer regions, and urged children, the elderly and the sick to leave.

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"Do not neglect your safety and the safety of your loved ones," said the statement.

Russia's defense ministry had announced its soldiers "improved their position" along the front line near the city, after reporting advances earlier in the week.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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