Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday he will seek tougher corruption measures against those prosecuted for grafting during wartime.
"I have set a task for the legislation and the Ukrainian legislators will be offered my proposals to equate corruption with high treason in wartime," Zelenskyy said on his channel on the messaging app Telegram.
"I think the parliament will get it in the next week and then the ball is in the parliament's court," he added.
As part of his government shake-up over corruption charges, Zelenskyy dismissed all the regional military recruitment chiefs Friday after a nationwide audit.
Zelenskyy said he hopes that his fight against corruption will encourage allies to support rebuilding Ukraine’s infrastructure, a multibillion-dollar effort.
Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180 countries on campaign group Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
Responding to a comment made last week by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham that Ukraine must hold elections in 2024, Zelenskyy said Sunday that voting during wartime could take place if partners shared the cost, legislators approved, and everyone got to the polls.
Graham, a supporter of Kyiv’s fight against Russia, said the country needed to show it was different by holding elections in wartime.
Elections cannot currently be held in Ukraine under martial law, which is extended every 90 days and is next due to expire on Nov. 15. According to the Ukraine Constitution, parliamentary elections are held the last Sunday in October in the fifth year of authority of the parliament, ahead of the presidential polls, which would normally be held in March 2024.
Warplane collision probe
Also, Ukrainian authorities are investigating what caused a collision between two warplanes while on a training mission, killing three Ukrainian pilots, in the west of the country.
According to the air force's Telegram page, two L-39 training military aircraft collided Friday during a combat mission over Ukraine's western Zhytomyr region.
Zelenskyy in his nightly address Saturday, paid tribute to the pilots, including Andriy Pilshchykov, a well-known pilot with the nickname “Juice,” who advocated for Ukraine receiving F-16 fighter jets. Zelenskyy said he was a “Ukrainian officer, one of those who helped our country a lot.”
The other two pilots were Viacheslav Minka and Serhiy Prokazin.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation said the inquiry will determine whether the planes were in good condition and whether all rules were followed prior to the flight. Specialists also will examine the black boxes that record data about the planes’ movements and the pilots’ reactions.
"It is too early to discuss details. Certainly, all circumstances will be clarified," Zelenskyy said
Second cargo ship departs
On Sunday, a second civilian cargo ship, carrying steel products to Africa, safely reached Romanian waters after leaving the Ukrainian port city of Odesa through a temporary Black Sea corridor, Ukraine said.
Earlier in August, Kyiv announced it had created a new maritime corridor. Russia last month left a Black Sea grain deal, which allowed for safe navigation of civilian grain shipments from Ukrainian ports.
In leaving the agreement, Moscow warned that any vessels leaving Ukrainian ports would be considered military targets.
"The second vessel has reached Romanian waters after successfully navigating through our temporary Black Sea corridor," Zelenskyy said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
He said the ship — a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier called Primus — was carrying steel destined for the African market.
"I thank everyone who made this possible, our port workers, our warriors and everyone who defends freedom," he said.
Ukraine said Sunday it downed four Russian cruise missiles overnight over northern and central parts of the country.
The governor of the Kyiv region, Ruslan Kravchenko, said two people were wounded and 10 buildings damaged by falling missile debris in one unspecified area of the region.
"Thanks to the professional work of the air defense forces, there were no strikes on critical or residential infrastructure," he said in a statement.
All of Ukraine was under air raid alerts for about three hours early Sunday before they were cleared at around 6 a.m. local time.
Russian forces shelled a cafe in Podoly — a suburb of the strategically significant northeastern city of Kupiansk — killing two civilians and injuring a third one Saturday.
The attacks are raising fears that the Russians are pushing to reclaim front-line cities in the northeast region. Ukrainian forces say that fighting there has become more intense, but the Russians haven’t broken through.
British defense officials said Saturday that Russia’s probable objective in the region will be to advance west to the Oskil River and establish a buffer zone around Luhansk oblast.
U.K. military intelligence assessed that Russia is attempting to reverse the gradual gains of the Ukrainian counteroffensive near Bakhmut and the Zaporizhzhia region.
The Ukrainian regional administration of Zaporizhzhia reported Saturday that Russia shelled Mala Tokmachka on Friday — one of the villages near which Kyiv's troops were said to be gaining ground. One resident was killed and another injured in the attack.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.