Ukraine’s farm minister is the latest corruption suspect as Kyiv aims to undo recent Russian gains – Metro US

Ukraine’s farm minister is the latest corruption suspect as Kyiv aims to undo recent Russian gains

Russia Ukraine War
Patients are evacuated from Children’s Hospital No. 1 on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 26, 2024. Doctors and ambulance crews evacuated patients from a Kyiv children’s hospital on Friday after a video circulated online saying Russia planned to attack it. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian court on Friday ordered the detention of the country’s farm minister in the latest high-profile corruption investigation, while Kyiv security officials were assessing how they can recover battlefield momentum in the war against Russia.

Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court ruled that Agriculture Minister Oleksandr Solskyi should be held in custody for 60 days. However, he was released after paying 75 million hryvnias ($1.77 million) in bail, a statement said.

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau suspects Solskyi headed an organized crime group that between 2017 and 2021 unlawfully obtained land worth 291 million hryvnias ($6.85 million) and attempted to obtain other land worth 190 million hryvnias ($4.47 million).

Ukraine is trying to root out corruption and a dragnet over the past two years has seen Ukraine’s defense minister, top prosecutor, intelligence chief and other senior officials lose their jobs. That has been embarrassing as Ukraine receives tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to help fight Russia’s army, and the European Union and NATO have demanded widespread anti-graft measures before Kyiv can realize its ambition of joining the blocs.

In Kyiv, patients were evacuated from a children’s hospital on Friday after a video circulated online saying Russia planned to attack it.

Parents lugged bags of clothes, toys and food while carrying toddlers and leading children out of Kyiv City Children’s Hospital No. 1, on the city’s outskirts. Medics helped them into a fleet of waiting ambulances to be transported to other facilities.

In the video, a security official from Russian ally Belarus alleges that military personnel were based in the hospital. Kyiv city authorities said that was “a lie and provocation.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said civic authorities were awaiting a security assessment before deciding when it was safe to go back to the hospital.

“We cannot risk the lives of our children,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held talks Friday with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the key international organization coordinating the delivery of weapons and other aid to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said he’d told members of the so-called Ramstein group that Ukraine needed long-range weapons, air defense weapons and artillery ammunition to reverse Russian gains on the battlefield. The Kremlin’s forces have gained an edge over Kyiv’s army in recent months as Ukraine grappled with a shortage of ammunition and troops.

“The one-to-ten ratio of our country’s artillery to the Russian army inspires Putin to fight on,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.” Our soldiers need artillery.”

Russia, despite sustaining high losses, has been taking control of small settlements as part of its effort to drive deeper into eastern Ukraine after capturing the city of Avdiivka in February, the U.K. defense ministry said Friday.

It’s been slow going for the Kremlin’s troops in eastern Ukraine and is likely to stay that way, according to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.

However, the key hilltop town of Chasiv Yar is vulnerable to Russian onslaught, including glide bombs. The powerful Soviet-era weapons, originally unguided, have been retrofitted with a navigational targeting system to obliterate targets.

“Russian forces do pose a credible threat of seizing Chasiv Yar, although they may not be able to do so rapidly,” the Washington-based think tank said late Thursday.

It added that Russian commanders are likely seeking to advance as much as possible before the arrival in the coming weeks and months of new U.S. military aid, which was held up for six months by political differences in Congress.

While help from the United States was not forthcoming, Ukraine’s European partners did not pick up the slack, according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which tracks Ukraine support.

“The European aid in recent months is nowhere near enough to fill the gap left by the lack of U.S. assistance, particularly in the area of ammunition and artillery shells,” it said in a report Thursday.

Ukraine is making a broad effort to take back the initiative in the war after more than two years of fighting. It plans to manufacture more of its own weapons in the future, and is clamping down on young people avoiding conscription, though it will take time to process and train any new recruits.

Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in Kyiv, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine