LIVE – Updated at 14:46
Polish PM also says he hopes for quick answer from Germans on exporting tanks; high-profile resignations and departures in Kyiv.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted to Telegram following his meeting in Kyiv today with president of Finland Sauli Niinistö. In the message, Zelenskiy said:
We held very fruitful, detailed and promising negotiations with president of Finland Sauli Niinistö. Defence cooperation, protection of our energy industry, interaction in European structures, issues of regional security, the Ukrainian peace formula and other issues on which the security of our countries and the whole of Europe directly depends.
I thank Finland for its constant and principled support of our defense efforts, sanctions pressure on Russia, and international activity aimed at holding Russia accountable for terror.
German exports to Russia nearly halved last year to levels not seen since 2003, according to data seen by Reuters on Tuesday, as sanctions targeting Moscow for the war in Ukraine took their toll on once-close ties.
German exports to Russia slumped by 45% year-on-year to €14.6bn ($15.9bn) in 2022, according to preliminary data from the German Committee on eastern European Economic Relations.
Imports from Russia, however, grew by 11% to about €37bn due to high oil and gas prices, the group said in its report.
Germany’s trade deficit with Russia climbed to a record level of about €22bn as a result, the group’s executive director Michael Harms said.
The plunge in exports to Russia was most visible in motor vehicles and automotive parts, as well as electrical engineering products, Harms added, while pharmaceutical products and agricultural machinery, sectors which have been excluded from European Union sanctions, remained the top exports.
Ukraine has enough coal and gas reserves for remaining winter months says PM
Ukraine has enough coal and gas reserves for the remaining months of winter despite repeated Russian attacks on its energy system, prime minister Denys Shmyhal has said.
Shmyhal said the situation in the energy sector remained difficult but under control after a months-long Russian campaign of drone and missile strikes on critical infrastructure that damaged about 40% of the energy system.
“For now all Russia’s attempts to plunge Ukraine into darkness have failed,” Shmyhal told a government meeting, Reuters reports.
“We have enough reserves to continue and end the heating season in normal mode. About 11bn cubic metres of gas are stored in gas storages and nearly 1.2m tonnes of coal are in storages.”
Ukraine state broadcaster Suspilne has reported that two people have been hospitalised in the Kharkiv region after shelling. It has posted to its Telegram channel to report:
The Russian military shelled the village of Lyptsi in the Kharkiv district: two volunteers were wounded, they were carrying humanitarian aid to Lyptsi. They were hospitalised.
Two more deputy ministers resign amid Ukraine government corruption scandal
Two deputy ministers resigned from Ukraine’s ministry of communities and territories development on Tuesday amid a broader exit of senior officials from the government, which has become engulfed in a corruption scandal following the dismissal of infrastructure deputy, Vasyl Lozinskyi.
Reuters reports that Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya both confirmed the moves on their Facebook pages.
So far today presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko and deputy defence minister, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, have both resigned, and a deputy in the prosecutor general’s office has been dismissed. There are reports that five regional governors in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson have also been dismissed.
As my colleague Isobel Koshiw noted yesterday:
Before the war, corruption scandals were an almost daily feature of Ukrainian political life. The country was ranked 122 out of 180 by Transparency International in 2021, making it one of the world’s most corrupt countries. The EU has made anti-corruption reforms one of the key requirements for Ukraine gaining EU membership.
Since the war, there have been far fewer known instances of corruption as society focused on the wartime effort. But journalists have returned to scrutinising the elites in recent months.
Poland to ask EU for compensation for supplying tanks
Poland will ask the EU for compensation for the cost of Leopard 2 tanks it wants to send Ukraine, the Polish prime minister said on Tuesday.
“We will apply for reimbursement to the European Union, it will be another test of goodwill,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.
Morawiecki said that he hoped there would be a quick response from Germany over whether Warsaw can re-export the tanks, Reuters reports. “I hope that this answer from Germany will come quickly, because the Germans are delaying, dodging, acting in a way that is difficult to understand.
“We can see that they do not want to help Ukraine defend itself in a wider way.”
The German foreign minister has been speaking to the EU’s parliamentary assembly, where she said the discussion over tank supplies must not turn into “finger pointing”.
Annalena Baerbock visited the council of Europe and met the secretary general Marija Pejčinović Burić.
In her address to the council of Europe she urged unity and harmony while the debate over the supply of tanks rumbles on.
Baerbock was then questioned by politicians in Strasbourg, including UK Conservative party backbench MP Christopher Chope.
He said: “Although you don’t seem to recognise it, today you have made the most powerful and eloquent case for Germany to supply leopard tanks to Ukraine.
“Germany’s refusal of these essential resources to Ukraine is prolonging the war and emboldening Putin.” He asked what could be done to turn Baerbock’s words into action.
She replied: “If we start or continue this game to finger point at others because it is more convenient for one’s self then Russia and Putin wins.
“This is why I’m not calling on your country, on other’s countries, saying why haven’t the Howitzers 2000 been delivered when Netherlands and Germany delivered them.
“This ends nowhere. This ends only in dividing Europe. Therefore I have said already in the last days yes we have to do more to defend Ukraine, yes we have to do more on tanks. But the most important and crucial part is that we do it together and we do not do the blame game in Europe because we are fighting a war against Russia, and not a war against each other.”
Germany to deal with Poland’s tank request ‘urgently’
Berlin will examine and make a decision over Poland’s application to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine “with necessary urgency”, a spokesperson has confirmed – but a decision could still take up to a fortnight.
On Tuesday a representative of the German government told journalists: “We will deal with the application with necessary urgency,” Agency France Presse reports.
Under Germany’s war weapons control rules, countries using German-made armaments are required to seek Berlin’s permission if they want to transfer the military equipment to a third party.
A German government source said a decision could be made within one to two weeks.
An air raid alert has been declared in Ukraine.
The BBC reports that a monitoring group covering Belarus has reported the take-off of a fighter jet in Belarus, which neighbours Ukraine to the north.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, one of the occupied regions of the Donbas which the Russian Federation claims to have annexed, has posted a series of images to Telegram which he claims shows the damage in Kostyantynivka following a Russian attack. He writes:
The Russians shelled Kostyantynivka – wounding four people. Among the wounded are two children. All the victims were given medical assistance – their health is currently satisfactory.
As a result of the shelling, high-rise buildings were damaged – the exact consequences have yet to be established. This is another blow to the city, which is located in the relative rear [away from the frontline in Donetsk]. And another targeted attack on civilians.
The claims have not been independently verified.
Downing Street has said the UK would not tell allies how they should specifically back Ukraine’s war effort, as Germany has come under widespread pressure over its decision to allow tanks to be sent to help push back the Russian invasion.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “As the foreign secretary and others have said, we would like to see additional support provided to Ukraine.
“What we are not going to do is dictate to other countries exactly what they should or should not provide – first and foremost that must be for those countries,” he said, PA Media reports.
“We look to work with our allies in lockstep as much as possible.
“Our approach has borne fruit.”
Here’s more details on the five regional governors who have been sacked by Volodymyr Zelenskiy this morning (see 11.01am).
His cabinet secretary Oleg Nemchinov confirmed that the head of five oblasts have been dismissed on Telegram.
The governors being removed from position are Valentyn Reznichenko, of Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Oleksandra Starukha of Zaporizhzhia oblast, Oleksiy Kuleba of Kyiv oblast, Dymtro Zhivytskyi, Sumy oblast and Yaroslav Yanushevich, of Kherson oblast.
The deputy social policy minister, Vitaliy Muzychenko has also been sacked.
Nemchinov says this follows a meeting of the cabinet this morning.
Oleksiy Sobolev has been appointed as deputy economy minister.
Summary of the day so far …
The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Tuesday he had asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday to relieve him of his duties as part of a wave of government resignations and dismissals. The move comes amid a corruption scandal which saw Infrastructure deputy Vasyl Lozinskyi sacked and detained for an alleged theft of $400,000 from the winter aid budget. Tymoshenko, 33, had been the deputy head of presidential office since 2019, overseeing regions and regional policies. He also worked with Zelenskiy during his election campaign, overseeing media and creative content.
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, has also resigned, citing “media accusations” of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless. A statement on the defence ministry’s website said Shapovalov’s resignation was “a worthy deed” that would help retain trust in the ministry
Deputy prosecutor general Oleksiy Symonenko has been removed from his post, according to the prosecutor general’s office, and two deputy ministers resigned from Ukraine’s ministry of communities and territories Development – Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya. Reportedly the heads of five regional authorities have also been dismissed, in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson.
Germany has now received Poland’s official request to re-export Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak said.
The final decision on whether Germany will give permission will be taken at the chancellery in Berlin, a senior official at the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, the decision will obviously be taken at the chancellery, in consensus by the government,” Tobias Lindner, state secretary at the foreign ministry, said at a defence conference in Berlin.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is confident the alliance will find a solution soon, he said after meeting Germany’s defence minister on Tuesday. “At this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster,” Stoltenberg said.
New German defence minister Boris Pistorius said there was no disunity among allies about sending heavy battle tanks to Ukraine and said that Berlin would act quickly if there was a positive decision to do so. However, he stressed that Nato must not become a party to the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin warned Monday that the people of Ukraine will “pay the price” if the west decides to send tanks to support Kyiv.
Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto has signalled a possible pause in discussions with Turkey over Finnish ambitions to join Nato alongside Sweden, which he says is due to the pressure of Turkey’s forthcoming election.
Russia’s ambassador to Estonia, Vladimir Lipaev, has accused the west of arming the Baltic state with weapons that could strike at St Petersburg.
That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. I will be back with you later. Harry Taylor will be with you now for the next few hours.
Five regional governors dismissed in Ukraine – reports
Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne is reporting on Telegram that the heads of administration in five of Ukraine’s regions have been dismissed, naming Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson as the regions affected.
More details soon …
The final decision on whether Germany will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine or allow other countries to do so will be taken at the chancellery in Berlin, a senior official at the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, the decision will obviously be taken at the chancellery, in consensus by the government,” Tobias Lindner, state secretary at the foreign ministry, said at a defence conference in Berlin organised by Handelsblatt.
“Where my minister stands in this debate is well-known, I believe,” Reuters reports he added, referring to foreign minister Annalena Baerbock who said on Sunday that Germany would not stand in the way of other countries supplying Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
At the moment, the Berlin government was waiting to see whether countries submitted re-export requests which then would be passed on to Germany’s national security council that decides on such requests, Lindner said.
Poland says it has sent such a request, and that Germany received it this morning.
Nato’s Stoltenberg ‘confident’ of solution on German tanks soon
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is confident the alliance will find a solution soon on the delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine, he said after meeting Germany’s defence minister on Tuesday.
“At this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster,” Stoltenberg told reporters, standing alongside the German defence minister, Boris Pistorius.
“I therefore welcome our discussion today. We discussed the issue of battle tanks. Consultations among allies will continue and I’m confident we will have a solution soon,” Reuters reports Stoltenberg added.
Pistorius said there was no disunity among allies about sending heavy battle tanks to Ukraine and stressed that Berlin would act quickly if there was a positive decision to do so. However, he stressed that Nato must not become a party to the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne has reported from Odesa that the number of Russian vessels in operation in the Black Sea has risen to 11. It claims that three surface ships and one submarine armed with Kalibr missiles are among them.
Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, said on Tuesday that Ukraine had proposed a non-aggression pact with his country, the Belta state news agency reported.
Reuters reports that Lukashenko was cited as disclosing the alleged offer to a meeting of government and law enforcement officials at which he also accused the west of arming militants in Ukraine who could potentially destabilise the situation in Belarus.
Russia used Belarus as a springboard in February 2022 to launch its failed offensive to capture Kyiv, and Russia and Belarus have continued to stage joint military drills during the course of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne reports that there is an emergency power shutdown in the Lviv region after the consumption limits were exceeded.
Germany has received Poland’s official request to re-export Leopard tanks
Germany has now received Poland’s official request to re-export Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Reuters reports Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, has said today’s personnel shakeup showed Volodymyr Zelenskiy was reacting to a “key public demand” that justice should apply to everyone. “Zelenskiy’s personnel decisions testify to the key priorities of the state. The president sees and hears society. And he directly responds to a key public demand – justice for all,” Reuters reported he said on Twitter.
Deputy head of the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov and a deputy to the prosecutor general left their posts as part of the shakeup earlier today.
Ukraine’s state emergency service has posted to the Telegram messaging app to report that in the last day it attended 132 sites of damage caused by “the consequences of hostilities of the Russian Federation”. It specifies:
During the day, units of the state emergency service carried out 132 trips to eliminate the consequences of shelling by the occupiers of populated areas and infrastructure facilities, 12 fires were extinguished. Assistance was provided to 74 persons.
It says that in total, since the beginning of Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine, “78,124 trips were made to eliminate the consequences of shelling, 13,794 fires were extinguished, 3,880 people were rescued”.
Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Lviv, has reported on the Telegram messaging app that overnight there were no air alerts in his region and the night passed peacefully. He stated that the schedule of hourly electricity blackouts in the region continues as “consumption limits for our region continue to remain at the level of less than half of the need”.
Kozytskyi stated that yesterday 43 internally displaced people arrived in the region on evacuation trains, and 13 arrived by bus.
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Shapovalov resigns citing ‘media accusations’ of corruption
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, has resigned, citing “media accusations” of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless.
A statement on the defence ministry’s website said Shapovalov’s resignation was “a worthy deed” that would help retain trust in the ministry, Reuters reports.
Russia’s ambassador to Estonia, Vladimir Lipaev, has accused the west of arming the Baltic state with weapons that could strike at St Petersburg.
Russian state-owned news agency Tass quotes the ambassador telling the Soloviev Live TV channel:
The Anglo-Saxons had an interest in creating an anti-Russian outpost here to put pressure on the Russian Federation. And we are talking not only about economic, political, cultural, but also military pressure.
Estonia is actively arming, it’s not clear why, types of conventional weapons that are capable of targeting St. Petersburg. A medium-range anti-missile defence system is being created.
His words come in a week of diplomatic tension between Russia and its neighbours around the Baltic sea. Yesterday, Russia said it was downgrading diplomatic relations with Estonia, accusing Tallinn of “total Russophobia”. The Russian foreign ministry said it had told the Estonian envoy he must leave next month, and both countries would be represented in each other’s capitals by an interim charge d’affaires instead of an ambassador. Latvia has said itwill downgrade its diplomatic ties with Russia and inform its Russian ambassador to leave the country by 24 February.
Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general Symonenko removed from post
Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general, Oleksiy Symonenko, has been removed from his post during a shake-up of senior officials, the prosecutor general’s office said.
Reuters reports the statement announcing his removal on Tuesday gave no reason for the decision but said it had been “according to his own wish”.
Earlier, the presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko and deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov both resigned, as Ukraine is gripped in a corruption scandal within its government.
Finland’s foreign minister has signalled a possible pause in discussions with Turkey over Finnish ambitions to join Nato, which he says is due to the pressure of Turkey’s forthcoming election.
Along with Sweden, Finland has been accepted as a member by the military alliance, but the process is yet to be ratified by Turkey, which has objections over what it claims is the harbouring and protection of anti-Turkish groups.
Reuters reports Pekka Haavisto has said that the situation is “hectic” because of elections in Turkey, and that a timeout is needed. Haavisto said he spoke to his Turkish counterpart yesterday and he expected there to be a pause for a couple of weeks. He said he did not see any point in Finland moving forward with the process ahead of Sweden, and that the talks should continue to be three-way.
Haavisto said Nato remains keen to include Finland and Sweden at the same time as it would ease defence planning.
The 2023 Turkish general election will be held on 14 May, when voters will choose a president and a new parliament.
Reuters has a quick snap to say that Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general has been fired. The move comes after both presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko and deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov resigned, amid a corruption scandal across the government.
More details soon …
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has published its daily operational briefing on how it sees the situation on the ground in Ukraine. Today the focus is on speculation about the Russian military hierarchy, with the MoD report claiming:
General Colonel Mikhail Teplinsky has likely been dismissed as one of Russia’s key operational commanders in Ukraine. Teplinsky was the officer on the ground in charge of Russia’s relatively successful withdrawal from west of the Dnipro in November 2022, and he has received praise in Russia as a capable and pragmatic commander. Teplinsky’s dismissal is likely another symptom of continued divisions within the senior hierarchy of Russia’s operation as General Valery Gerasimov attempts to impose his personal authority on the campaign.
Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne has posted the following summary update to the Telegram messaging app, saying:
In the morning, Russian troops shelled Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region: residential buildings were hit, large-scale fires broke out.
In occupied Crimea, the Russian FSB [Federal Security Service] searched the homes of six Crimean Tatars. They were detained. Their relatives do not know where they are, Crimean Solidarity reports.
In the night anti-aircraft battle, in the eastern direction units of the anti-aircraft missile forces destroyed three Russian Ka-52 helicopters.
In Donetsk region, three civilians were killed by Russian shelling last night, and three more were injured.
The claims have not been independently verified.
Ukrinform has more quotes from the resignation letter of Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who is leaving the post of deputy head of the office of the president of Ukraine.
In the letter, Tymoshenko thanked “every head of the regional military administrations. You and I were able to build the most powerful team in the country. You are great. You are real warriors of light!”
As well as thanking city mayors for being “constructive in disputes”, he had a wider message, saying: “I thank all Ukrainians for trust. I thank the armed forces of Ukraine for saving and defending our country. I thank my wife and son for understanding and support.”
There is some suggestion in Ukraine’s media that the heads of several regional authorities who were closely associated with Tymoshenko may also offer their resignations.
Zelenskiy aide resigns
The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Tuesday he had asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday to relieve him of his duties.
“I thank the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the trust and the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute,” Tymoshenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine has issued its daily operational briefing. In the last 24 hours it claims to have killed 690 Russian troops, and destroyed two tanks, eight armoured personnel carriers, two artillery systems, 1 MLRS, two planes, four helicopters and three drones.
The claims have not been independently verified.
More now on Tymoshenko’s resignation, via Reuters.
Zelenskiy’s aide gave no reason for his resignation. Ukrainian media had reported that Tymoshenko might be part of the personnel shake-up the Ukrainian leader announced.
A decree accepting Tymoshenko’s resignation was published on the president’s website.
Zelenskiy said on Monday that personnel changes would be announced this week in the government, the regions and in the security forces after allegations of corruption nearly a year into Russia’s invasion.
Tymoshenko, 33, had been the deputy head of presidential office since 2019, overseeing regions and regional policies. He also worked with Zelenskiy during his election campaign, overseeing media and creative content.
“Since the start Russian invasion in Ukraine of February 2022, according to Ukrainian media, Tymoshenko had been embroiled in several scandals related to his personal use of expensive cars,” Reuters reports. “Tymoshenko has denied all the allegations.”
Welcome and summary
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next while.
Our top story this morning:
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said personnel changes were 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.
And German defence group Rheinmetall could deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if required, a spokesperson for the company told media group RND.
We’ll have more on these stories shortly. In the meantime here are the key recent developments:
Germany’s approval for the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is of secondary importance as Poland could send those tanks as part of a coalition of countries even without its permission, the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said on Monday. “We will ask for such permission, but this is an issue of secondary importance. Even if we did not get this approval … we would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine”, Morawiecki told reporters.
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock’s comment on Sunday, that her country would not “stand in the way” of Poland sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, is causing some confusion in Berlin. It remains unclear whether her remarks are indicative of a shift in the government’s position. Baerbock did not repeat her comment when pressed on the matter on Monday morning. “It’s important that we as an international community do everything to defend Ukraine, so that Ukraine wins”, she told press at a meeting of the EU’s foreign affairs council in Brussels. “Because if it loses Ukraine will cease to exist.”
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said during his visit to South Africa on Monday that Ukraine was rejecting peace talks and the longer this continued the harder it would be to resolve the conflict. Lavrov met South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, in a trip some opposition parties and the small Ukrainian community in South Africa have condemned as insensitive. The South African military is set to host a joint military exercise with Russia and China on its east coast on 17-27 February.
18 people injured as a result of last weekend’s rocket attack on a high-rise building in Dnipro remain in hospital, including one child. Ukraine state broadcaster reports. “There are no serious patients among these patients, all of them were transferred from intensive care units to general departments.”
Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, governor of Sumy in Ukraine’s north-east, has said that an apartment building and railway infrastructure has been hit by Russian fire in Vorozhba. There were no details of casualties.
The top Moscow-installed official in the Russian-occupied parts of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine said late on Sunday that he had visited the town of Soledar, which Russia claimed to have captured earlier this month. Denis Pushilin published a short video on the Telegram messaging app that showed him driving and walking amid desolate areas and destroyed buildings. The Guardian was not able to independently verify when and where the video was taken. On 11 January, the private Russian military group Wagner said it had captured Soledar. Ukraine has never publicly said that the town was taken by Russian forces.
Russian state-owned news agency Tass is reporting that Russian forces claim to have destroyed a large Ukrainian ammunition depot in the Kherson region.
Russia has said it is downgrading diplomatic relations with the Nato member Estonia, accusing Tallinn of “total Russophobia”. The Russian foreign ministry said it had told the Estonian envoy he must leave next month, and both countries would be represented in each other’s capitals by an interim charge d’affaires instead of an ambassador.
German defence group offers to send tanks if needed
German defence group Rheinmetall could deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if required, a spokesperson for the company told media group RND.
Germany is coming under intense pressure from Ukraine and some Nato allies, such as Poland, to allow Kyiv to be supplied with the German-made Leopard 2 tanks for its defence against Russia’s invasion.
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has so far held back from supplying the tanks or allowing other Nato countries to do so.
Rheinmetall could deliver 29 Leopard 2A4 tanks by April/May and a further 22 of the same model around the end of 2023 or early 2024, the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
More on the corruption scandal in Ukraine: several Ukrainian media outlets have reported that cabinet ministers and senior officials could be sacked imminently.
On Sunday, anti-corruption police 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.
David Arakhamia, the head of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party, said officials should “focus on the war, help victims, cut bureaucracy and stop dubious business”.
“We’re definitely going to be jailing actively this spring. If the humane approach doesn’t work, we’ll do it in line with martial law,” he said.
Zelenskiy flags more changes in corruption purge
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said personnel changes were 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, Reuters reports.
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 – the workhorse of armies across Europe that Ukraine says it needs to break through Russian lines and recapture territory.
“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,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Monday.
Zelenskiy, who did not identify the officials to be replaced, said his plans included toughening oversight on travelling abroad for official assignments.