- Security services conduct sweeping raids ahead of EU summit
- Home of billionaire, former interior minister raided
- New U.S. Weapon Will Nearly Double Ukraine’s Range
- Ukrainian soldiers say fighting Russian troops in Bakhmut
Kyiv, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Security services raided the home of one of Ukraine’s most prominent billionaires on Wednesday, in what was once seen as the target of President Zelensky’s crackdown on what authorities called a wartime corruption crackdown. Patrons in the purge.
The move, days ahead of a summit with the European Union, appears to reflect Kyiv’s determination to prove it can become a steward of billions of dollars in Western aid and shed its reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
In recent weeks, Kyiv has secured huge promises of weapons from the West that offer new capabilities — the latest this week is expected to include rockets from the United States that will nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.
Photos circulating on social media appear to show Ihor Kolomoiskiy in tracksuit, watching from his home in the presence of SBU security services.
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The SBU said it had discovered that more than $1 billion was misappropriated from Ukraine’s largest oil company, Ukrnafta, and its largest refinery, Ukrtatnafta. Kolomoiskiy, who has long denied wrongdoing, had stakes in both companies that Zelenskiy ordered the state to seize under martial law in November.
Separate raids were carried out at the tax office and the residence of Arsen Avakov, who led Ukraine’s police force during his tenure as interior minister from 2014 to 2021. The SBU said it was cracking down on “those who endanger national security in various fields” and promised to provide more details in the coming days.
The head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Vasyl Malyuk, was quoted on the SBU Telegram channel as saying: “Every criminal who dares to harm Ukraine, especially in conditions of war, must clearly know that we will handcuff him.”
The Attorney General’s Office said top Ukrtatnafta managers had been informed of the suspicion, as had the former energy minister, former deputy defense minister and other officials.
Kolomoiskiy faces a fraud case in the United States and has been at the center of corruption allegations and court battles for years that Western donors say Kyiv must address to win aid.
Zelenskiy, who first became known as the star of the Kolomoiskiy TV sitcom, has long pledged to rid Ukraine of so-called oligarchs but has faced accusations that he was unable to take decisive action against his former sponsor.
In speeches the night before the raid, he mentioned new anti-corruption measures in time for a summit on Friday, where Ukraine is expected to seek firm steps toward joining the European Union.
“We are preparing new reforms in Ukraine. Reforms will change social, legal and political realities in many ways to make them more humane, transparent and effective,” he said, promising details soon.
Since November, the Ukrainian army has retaken large swathes of territory from the Russian army in the second half of 2022. Key to regaining the initiative, Kyiv said, is access to advanced Western weapons.
A new $2 billion military aid package to be announced as early as this week will include, for the first time, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), a new weapon designed by Boeing Co, two U.S. officials said. (prohibit)
The cheap glide missiles can hit targets more than 150 kilometers (90 miles) away, a significant increase over the 80-kilometer range of rockets fired by the HIMARS system, which changed the face of warfare when they were deployed last summer.
That would put all of Russia-occupied territory on mainland Ukraine, as well as parts of the Crimean peninsula that Moscow captured in 2014, within range of Kyiv’s forces.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the arrival of longer-range American weapons would escalate the conflict.
Western nations last week pledged for the first time dozens of advanced main battle tanks, a breakthrough backing aimed at giving Kyiv the ability to retake occupied territory this year.
But the arrival of the new weapon is still months away, while Russia has gained momentum on the battlefield, announcing advances north and south of the city of Bakhmut, its main target for months.
Kyiv disputes many of these claims, and Reuters was unable to independently verify all of them, but the reported locations of the fighting clearly show that Russia is advancing gradually.
A soldier of the Ukrainian unit of Belarusian volunteers told Reuters from inside the city that troops were fighting row by row in Bakhmut, gaining only 100 meters (yards) a night, while the city was under constant Russian bombardment. shelling.
Ukraine’s General Staff said late Tuesday that its troops had come under artillery fire in Bakhmut and the villages of Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka on the southern road.
South of Bakhmut, Russia also this week launched a new major offensive against Vuhledar, a long-held Ukrainian-held bastion at the junction of the southern and eastern fronts. Kyiv said its troops have so far been stationed there.
The infusion of Western military and financial aid has put fresh pressure on Zelensky to prove his government can clean up Ukraine.
Last week, he ousted a dozen senior officials following a series of scandals and graft allegations in the biggest shakeup of Ukraine’s leadership since the invasion.
After Wednesday’s raid, David Alakamia, parliamentary leader of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, wrote in a telegram: “The country will change during the war. If someone is not ready for change ready, then the country itself will come and help them change.”
Writing by Peter Graff on Reuters Editing by Philippa Fletcher
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