Ukraine war: 'Global catastrophe' threats, 'corruption' at Ukrainian … – Euronews

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 A close ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that delivering offensive weapons to Kyiv will lead to a world disaster by making arguments against using nuclear weapons untenable.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma — Russia’s lower house of parliament — warned that US and NATO support of Ukraine is pushing the world to a “terrible war”.
He singled out the delivery of longer range weapons that could hit Russian territory. 
“If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons,” Volodin said on Telegram. 
“Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country.”
Volodin, 58, has been the Duma speaker since 2016, having previously held a senior role in the presidential administration. As a member of Putin’s Security Council, he has regular access to the president.
“Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe,” he said.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense denied signing military contracts at inflated prices on Sunday, rejecting accusations of corruption in a country where embezzlement is rife. 
The comment follows media reports in Ukraine accusing the ministry of agreeing to contracts for supplying food to soldiers on the front line at “two to three” times the normal price. 
The contract in question amounts to €320 million for 2023, according to the ZN.UA news site.
“The ministry purchases relevant products in accordance with procedures established by law,” said the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, dismissing the allegations as “false”. 
It claimed the reports were “deliberate manipulation”, warning that it would open an investigation into the “dissemination” of “misleading” information, which “harms the interests of defence during a special period”.
The ministry claimed it showed “zero tolerance towards corruption”, adding “checks are carried out” before contracts are signed.
An “emergency meeting” at the ministry is set to be held on Monday in order to shed light on the issue and see if any officials have broken the rules.
In another scandal this weekend, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) arrested the First Deputy Minister of Community and Territorial Development on Saturday on suspicion of embezzlement.
Vasyl Lozynkiï allegedly received €370,000 to “facilitate the conclusion of contracts for the purchase of equipment and generators at inflated prices”, said the NABU in a press release. 
Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson made a surprise trip to Kyiv on Sunday,  saying that Britain would “stick by Ukraine as long as it takes”. 
The Conservative MP — who resigned in the summer amid a string of scandals — said it was a “privilege” to be invited to the country by Zelenskyy.  
Johnson was UK leader when Russian tanks rolled across the border in February, positioning himself as one of Kyiv’s leading allies in the West. 
“The only way to end this war is for Ukraine to win – and to win as fast as possible,” Johnson said. “This is the moment to double down, and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job.
“The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world”.
Johnson also visited the towns of Bucha and Borodyanka, northwest Kyiv, which were occupied by Russian forces in March last year. 
They left scenes of mass destruction in their wake, with the suburbs becoming bywords for the atrocities allegedly committed against civilians in Ukraine. 
As his reputation was muddied by scandals back home, Johnson gained widespread popularity in Ukraine, becoming known as “Borys Johnsoniuk”. 
Cafes named cakes after him and street art was produced 
Poland’s prime minister slammed Berlin’s refusal to supply Kyiv with heavy tanks as “unacceptable” on Sunday, especially at a time when Russia is on the offensive. 
“Germany’s attitude is unacceptable,” Mateusz Morawiecki told PAP news agency. “It has been almost a year since the war started. Innocent people are dying every day. Russian bombs are wreaking havoc in Ukrainian cities. Civilian objects are attacked, women and children are murdered.” 
His statement comes two days after a meeting of fifty countries at the Ramstein airbase in Germany.
Ukraine’s allies announced substantial new arms deliveries to Ukraine but failed to agree on the delivery of heavy tanks, despite repeated requests from Kyiv. 
The Polish Prime Minister said he was waiting for “a clear declaration” from Berlin to authorise the export of Leopard 2 battle tanks. 
Warsaw, like many other countries in Europe, has the German-made tank, but it must first seek Berlin’s approval to send them under licensing agreements. 
Poland has said it is ready to deliver 14 Leopards to Kyiv and indicated it is in discussion with fifteen other countries on the topic. 
If Berlin refuses to supply Kyiv, “we will put together a small coalition of countries ready to donate some of their modern equipment, their modern tanks,” said Morawiecki.
Britain still wants an international deal to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, which Kyiv says it needs to defeat Russia, the country’s foreign minister James Cleverly said on Sunday.
The tanks are seen by defence experts as the most suitable for Ukraine.
“Of course, I would like to see the Ukrainians equipped with things like the Leopard 2 as well as the artillery systems that have been provided by us and by others,” Cleverly said in an interview with Sky News.
“I will keep having those conversations with our NATO allies and friends, to facilitate the donation of the best military equipment to Ukraine to help them defend themselves against this brutal invasion.”
Asked whether Germany was doing enough to help Ukraine, Cleverly said he wanted to see “everybody going as far as they can, but each country will support Ukraine in a way that is most appropriate to them.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrat party is traditionally sceptical of military involvements and wary of further escalation in the conflict in Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s spokesman said on Friday that Western countries supplying additional tanks to Ukraine would not change the course of the conflict and that they would add to the problems of the Ukrainian people.
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