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Zelensky Sacks Six Deputy Defence Ministers Amid Mounting Corruption Scandals

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(AP) – 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.

Deputy defense ministers including 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.

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, the presidential office reported.

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.

The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted all 17 cruise missiles launched by Russia and 18 of 24 Shaded drones in the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Odesa early Monday morning.

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.

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