Russia said eyeing eastern Ukraine push; Kyiv targets graft

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia is mustering its military might in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, officials said Wednesday, in what Kyiv suspects is preparation for an offensive as the first anniversary of Moscow’s invasion approaches.

Also Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government continued its crackdown on alleged corruption with the dismissal of several high-ranking officials, prominent lawmaker David Arakhamia said.


Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform in a country long gripped by graft. The latest allegations come as Western allies are channeling billions of dollars to help Kyiv fight Moscow and as the Ukrainian government is introducing reforms so it can potentially join the European Union one day.

Ukraine’s Security Service said on the Telegram messaging app that an operation on Wednesday targeted “corrupt officials who undermine the country’s economy and the stable functioning of the defense-industrial complex.” It identified one as a former Defense Ministry official accused of embezzling state funds through the purchase of nearly 3,000 bulletproof vests that would inadequately protect Ukrainian soldiers.

Summing up the day’s focus on fighting corruption, Zelenskyy declared in his nightly video address Wednesday: “We will not allow anyone to weaken our state.”

On the battlefront, a Russian missile destroyed an apartment building in the eastern Donetsk provincial city of Kramatorsk late Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding at least seven, the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, reported. Rescuers were searching the building’s rubble for other victims. Russia has frequently attacked apartment buildings during the war, causing civilian casualties, although the Kremlin often denies such reports.

Elsewhere, the Kremlin’s forces were expelling residents near the Russian-held parts of the front line so they can’t tell Ukrainian artillery forces about Russian troop deployments, Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said.

“There is an active transfer of (Russian troops) to the region and they are definitely preparing for something on the eastern front in February,” Haidai said.

The Institute for the Study of War predicted “an imminent Russian offensive in the coming months.” Some predict it will coincide with the invasion anniversary on Feb. 24.

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