KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Poland has officially requested permission from Germany to transfer its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said Tuesday.
Berlin has received Warsaw’s request, Błaszczak said in a tweet, though German officials did not immediately confirm that.
Błaszczak wrote on Twitter: “The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause, because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!”
Ukraine has been pleading for Western tanks to help it push back against Russia’s invasion.
In other developments, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office quit Tuesday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to launch a staff shake-up amid high-level corruption allegations during the war with Russia.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own social media posts.
Neither gave a reason for the resignation.
Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, alleging his departure was linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko also quit.
Tymoshenko joined the presidential office in 2019, after working on Zelenskyy’s media and creative content strategy during his presidential campaign.
Zelenskyy had promised personnel changes in the government, regional administrations and security forces following corruption allegations that emerged after Russia’s invasion last February.
Tymoshenko last year was under investigation relating to his personal use of luxury cars. He was also among officials linked last September to the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than $7 million earmarked for the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
He has denied all the allegations.
Zelenskyy vowed to drive out corrupt officials in comments on Sunday, when a deputy minister was dismissed for being part of a network embezzling budget funds. Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry later identified the dismissed official as Vasyl Lozynsky, a deputy minister there.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine’s focus on the war would not stop his government from tackling corruption.
Zelenskyy, who came to power in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform, pointed to suspicions in the areas of energy and military procurement.
He said he intended the deputy minister’s dismissal to send “a signal to all those whose actions or behavior violate the principle of justice.”
“I want to be clear: There will be no return to what used to be in the past,” Zelenskyy said.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency detained him while he was receiving a $400,000 bribe for helping to fix contracts related to restoring infrastructure facilities battered by Russian missile strikes.
A statement by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine described Lozynsky as part of “an organized criminal group involved in the embezzlement of budget funds.”
It said its detectives were working to identify the group’s other members.
In other developments:
Russian shelling overnight killed one civilian and wounded two others near the eastern city of Bakhmut, the epicenter of the fighting in recent months, regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said Tuesday.
Russian forces also shelled nine towns and villages in the northern Sumy region, which borders Russia, killing a young woman and wounding three other people, local Gov. Dmytro Zhyvytskyy reported on Telegram.
He said the casualties all lived in the same house, which suffered a direct artillery hit.