Boris Johnson visits Ukraine amid fresh sleaze allegations
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has announced personnel changes are being carried out at senior and lower levels, following the most high-profile graft allegations since Russia’s invasion.
Several Ukrainian media outlets have reported that cabinet ministers and senior officials could be sacked imminently, with corruption claims threatening to dampen Western enthusiasm for the Kyiv government.
A top ally of Mr Zelensky has said that corrupt officials would be “actively” jailed, setting out a zero-tolerance approach.
Reports of high scandal in Ukraine, which has a long history of shaky governance, come as European countries bicker over giving Kyiv German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
Germany’s foreign minister says Berlin “would not stand in the way” of Poland sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, on the same day as Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Downing St confirmed on Monday that security for Mr Johnson’s visit was funded by UK taxpayers.
Ukraine pledges sweeping personnel changes amid corruption allegations
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has announced personnel changes are being carried out at senior and lower levels, following the most high-profile graft allegations since Russia’s invasion that threaten to dampen Western enthusiasm for the Kyiv government.
Reports of a fresh scandal in Ukraine, which has a long history of shaky governance, come as European countries bicker over giving Kyiv German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
“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,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Monday.
Mr Zelensky, who did not identify the officials to be replaced, said his plans included toughening oversight on travelling abroad for official assignments.
Several Ukrainian media outlets have reported that cabinet ministers and senior officials could be sacked imminently.
This comes after anti-corruption police on Sunday said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 kickback over the import of generators last September, an allegation the minister denies.
A newspaper investigation accused the defence ministry of overpaying suppliers for soldiers’ food. The supplier has said it made a technical mistake and no money had changed hands.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 03:50
Boris Johnson urges more support for Ukraine ‘now’
Boris Johnson has urged western allies to give Ukraine “all the help that they need” to defeat Russian military forces, just a day after his surprise visit to the country.
In an editorial renewing his support for the war-torn nation, the former prime minister writes: “Look at those brave Ukrainians and answer me this question: just what the hell are we waiting for?”
Mr Johnson positioned himself as a key ally of Kyiv during his time at No 10 and has consistently called for further military support for Ukraine.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 07:30
Is there more to Boris Johnson’s trip to Ukraine?
Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv and the towns of Bucha and Borodyanka, where he witnessed the destruction left after the Russian occupation in March last year, including massacres of civilians. Sean O’Grady looks at why.
To be fair to Johnson, he was one of the first Western leaders to comprehend the menace of Russian intentions towards Ukraine, and was a driving force in delivering assistance after the invasion last February.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 07:10
Rishi Sunak and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met to discuss Ukraine, Downing Street confirms
A Downing Street spokeswoman said on Monday: “The Prime Minister spoke to the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon.
“The leaders reflected on the close relationship between the UK and Ireland, and the Prime Minister said it was clear both nations were highly aligned when it came to shared values and challenges. He pointed to cooperation on areas like research and development and offshore wind.
“The leaders discussed the invasion of Ukraine, and the Prime Minister updated on the UK’s plans to accelerate its support to help the country secure a lasting peace.
“They also discussed the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the need to find solutions to the problems being faced by communities in Northern Ireland. Both leaders reflected on the need for Northern Ireland to have a power-sharing government up and running as soon as possible.
“The leaders agreed to stay in close touch.”
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 06:50
Boris Johnson’s bond with Ukraine is greater than you think
When visiting Ukraine you would be forgiven for thinking that Johnson was still the British prime minister, writes Bel Trew.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 06:20
What are the Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine
Following intense pressure from its allies, Germany appears to be inching toward approving deliveries of high-tech Leopard 2 main battle tanks that Ukraine and its biggest Western backers hope will boost Kyiv’s fight against Russian invaders.
Over the weekend German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said Berlin would not get in the way if Poland — arguably Ukraine’s most vocal supporter among European Union neighbours — wants to ship Leopard 2 tanks from its arsenal across the border into Ukraine.
Germany is also not ruling out supplying such tanks to Ukraine itself now, cautioning however that the implications of such a step need to be carefully weighed.
Here’s a look at what those tanks might mean for Ukraine’s defence against Russian forces — and hopes for driving them out.
A look at Leopard 2 tanks that could soon be sent to Ukraine
In the wake of intense pressure from its allies, Germany appears to be inching toward approving deliveries of high-tech Leopard 2 main battle tanks that Ukraine and its biggest Western backers hope will boost Kyiv’s fight against Russian invaders
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 06:00
Poland adds pressure on Germany over Leopard tanks
Poland has stepped up pressure on Germany over arms to Ukraine, saying it would send German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv if other countries did the same, as Berlin says it would not stand in the way of the export.
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government wants the widely-used tanks to help it break through Russian lines and recapture territory.
But Germany, which must approve re-exports of the Leopard, was reported to have held back the approval, wary of moves that could cause Moscow to escalate.
Germany’s foreign minister Anna Baerbock said on Sunday that she “would not stand in the way” of Poland if it were to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Alastair Jamieson has more:
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 05:40
Boris Johnson trip to Ukraine paid for by taxpayers, confirms No 10
Security for Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine at the weekend was funded by taxpayers, Downing Street has said.
The former prime minister, facing fresh questions over his personal finances, said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had invited him to travel to Kyiv once again.
No 10 said Rishi Sunak was “supportive” of Mr Johnson’s trip, after warnings from military figures that the former PM should not be “looking for publicity” and could undermine the PM’s authority.
Our political correspondent Adam Forrest has more:
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 05:20
Putin ‘turning away’ from Wagner group
Vladimir Putin is turning away from his reliance on the Wagner group of mercenaries to fight in Ukraine, according to military observers.
In its latest update on the Ukraine conflict, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the Russian president likely intends to rely on conventional Russian forces after recently appointing a new overall commander in General Valeriy Gerasimov.
Mr Putin may have felt threatened by Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s ambition in Moscow politics and his claims of his mercenaries’ importance to the Russian campaign, the ISW said.
The Kremlin was put in an uncomfortable position earlier this month when Mr Prigozhin claimed his fighters taken the Ukrainian town of Soledar several days before Russia officially made the same claim.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 05:00
Ukraine sanctions 22 associated with Russian Orthodox Church
Ukraine has imposed sanctions on 22 Russians associated with the Russian Orthodox Church for what president Volodymyr Zelensky said was their support of genocide under the cloak of religion.
According to a decree issued by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, the list includes Mikhail Gundayev, who represents the Russian Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches and other international organisations in Geneva.
Russian state media reported that Mr Gundayev is a nephew of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. Ukraine sanctioned Mr Kirill last year.
The sanctions are the latest in a series of steps Ukraine has taken against the Russian Orthodox Church, which has backed president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine which is now entering its 12th month.
“Sanctions have been imposed against 22 Russian citizens who, under the guise of spirituality, support terror and genocidal policy,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address late on Monday.
He said the punitive measures said that they would strengthen the country’s “spiritual independence”.
Stuti Mishra24 January 2023 04:40