A peeling Ukrainian armed forces recruiting billboard reads: "Ukraine Needs You . . . " on the city outskirts on February 21, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


Zelenskiy fires top military draft officers in anti-graft push


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed all regional heads of military recruitment in his country to root out corruption as he seeks to maintain morale in the face of a grinding counteroffensive against the Russian army.

“Only people who know precisely what war is, and why cynicism and bribery in wartime is treason, should run this system,” Zelenskiy said in a video statement on Telegram.

Experience in battle will now be a requirement for the heads of regional military recruitment offices, who will also undergo background checks by Ukraine’s Security Service, according to Zelenskiy.

Ukraine has recently been reeling from allegations of corruption among recruitment officers, who are responsible for both enlisting new soldiers and releasing them from military duty. Investigators have opened 112 criminal probes against officials, 33 of whom have received notices of suspicion, Zelenskiy said after a meeting with the main law enforcement and security agencies.

Ukrainian forces are struggling to make gains in a broad counteroffensive launched about two months ago with an arsenal that includes billions of dollars of NATO weaponry. Russia has dug in behind minefields, tank barriers and other defences.

Draft officers who were dismissed without being accused of violations may join the army to retain their rank, Zelenskiy said. “If they want to keep their shoulder insignia and prove their dignity — off to the front.”