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Russia and Ukraine trade aerial attacks as Zelenskiy makes another move against corruption

President Zelenskyi announced Friday the firing of all the heads of regional military draft boards, part of his crackdown on corruption since the outbreak of Moscow’s war in more than 17 months ago

A Ukrainian soldier rides atop an APC on the frontline in the Luhansk region, Ukraine
A Ukrainian soldier rides atop an APC on the frontline in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, on May 21, 2023.LIBKOS (AP)

Russia fired missiles at western Ukraine that killed an 8-year-old boy, local officials said, and drones that Russian officials blamed on the Ukrainian military targeted Moscow for a third straight day but reportedly didn’t cause significant damage.

Also Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi announced the firing of all the heads of regional military draft boards, part of his crackdown on corruption since the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine more than 17 months ago.

The missile that killed the boy struck a house in western Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Polish border, according to the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

But Ukrainian air defenses frustrated Russia’s daylight attack on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Debris from intercepted missiles fell on residential areas of the city, including the premises of a children’s hospital, without causing casualties, local authorities said.

Falling wreckage of missiles and drones has in the past killed people on the ground and damaged buildings in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, a drone fell in western Moscow after Russian air defense systems stopped it, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Nobody was hurt, he said.

The drone plunged onto the Karamyshevskaya Embankment, officials said, which is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from a Moscow business district that was hit twice in previous drone incidents.

Reports of drones in the area disrupted flights at two Russian airports. Flights later resumed at Vnukovo airport, one of Moscow’s busiest and at Kaluga airport, southwest of the city. It was the third day in a row that Vnukovo airport halted flights due to drone attacks.

In Kyiv, Zelenskyi said he was firing draft board directors in all Ukraine’s regions. He said in a Telegram post that the jobs should go to war veterans, including those with injuries.

The step was taken after Ukrainian security services presented details of 112 criminal cases against draft board officials suspected of taking bribes and engaging in corrupt practices, as well as 33 suspects who have yet to be charged.

Zelenskyi previously fired senior officials suspected of corruption. That has sent a signal to Western allies providing Kyiv with tens of billions of dollars in military aid that Ukraine is serious about clamping down on graft, which has long plagued the country’s military.

The long-simmering issue of corruption in Ukraine’s draft system burst into the open last June when a media investigation was published about Odesa’s regional draft commissar Ievhen Borysov, igniting a scandal.

The investigation reported on millions of dollars’ worth of real estate and luxury vehicles allegedly owned by Borysov’s family members in Spain. Borysov denied any wrongdoing, saying he had nothing to do with what his family purchased.

After the report, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation and its Security Service detained scores of draft board staff suspected of bribery and corruption.

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