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Zelenskyy aide on corruption in Ukraine: ‘People are stealing like there’s no tomorrow’

An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government has suffered “reputational damage” on the world stage for its sluggish efforts to battle corruption.

TIME senior correspondent Simon Shuster wrote about his experience following Zelenskyy and his team back to Ukraine after they visited the U.S. in September to appeal for aid, noting in Washington they had faced “insistent calls for Zelensky to fight corruption inside his own government, and the fading enthusiasm for a war with no end in sight.”

Shuster reported that similarly grim sentiment appears among the public as well, as those with the money available “sometimes bribe their way out of service” and that such cases “became so widespread by the end of the summer that on Aug. 11 Zelensky fired the heads of the draft offices in every region of the country.”

“The decision was intended to signal his commitment to fighting graft. But the move backfired, according to the senior military officer, as recruitment nearly ground to a halt without leadership,” Shuster wrote. “The fired officials also proved difficult to replace, in part because the reputation of the draft offices had been tainted.” 

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) walks with U.S. President Joe Biden down the colonnade to the Oval Office during a visit to the White House September 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)

“When I asked Zelenskyy about the problem, he acknowledged its gravity and the threat it poses to Ukraine’s morale and its relationships with foreign partners. Fighting corruption, he assured me, is among his top priorities,” Shuster wrote. “He also suggested that some foreign allies have an incentive to exaggerate the problem, because it gives them an excuse to cut off financial support.”

“It’s not right,” Zelenskyy told him, “for them to cover up their failure to help Ukraine by tossing out these accusations.”

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Alexander Hall is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Alexander.hall@fox.com.

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