Zelenskyy sacks security chief and main prosecutor on suspicion of treason within their departments

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sacked the country’s security service chief and its attorney general on Sunday, citing hundreds of criminal charges for treason and collaboration with people within their departments.

« In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecution and the [Security Service of Ukraine] remained in the occupied territory and work against our state,” Zelenskyy said.

« Such a range of crimes against the foundations of national security of the state, and the recorded links between Ukrainian security forces and Russian special services raise very serious questions about their respective leaders, » he said. .

He sacked Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and replaced her with his deputy Oleksiy Symonenko.

He also sacked Ivan Bakanov, the head of Ukraine’s security service, the SBU. Bakanov was a longtime friend of Zelenskyy, according to Ukrainian news agencies.

Ukraine’s security service chief Ivan Bakanov, left, is seen with Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova during a news conference in Kyiv on May 11. Zelenskyy fired them both on Sunday. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

A Ukrainian counter-offensive is looming in the south

Earlier on Sunday, Russian missiles hit industrial facilities in Mykolaiv, a strategic city in southern Ukraine. Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said the missiles hit an industrial and infrastructure facility in the city, a key shipbuilding center in the Southern Bug River estuary. There was no immediate information about the casualties.

Mykolaiv has faced regular Russian missile strikes in recent weeks as the Russians sought to soften Ukrainian defenses.

The Russian army has set itself the goal of cutting off the entire Ukrainian coast from the Black Sea to the Romanian border. If successful, such an effort would deal a crushing blow to Ukraine’s economy and trade and allow Moscow to secure a land bridge to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, home to a Russian military base.

Early in the campaign, Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attempts to capture Mykolaiv, which lies near the Black Sea coast between Russian-occupied Crimea and the main Ukrainian port of Odessa. Since then, Russian troops have halted their attempts to advance into the city, but have continued to hit both Mykolaiv and Odessa with regular missile strikes.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, chaired by President Vladimir Putin, has responded to statements by Ukrainian officials that Kyiv could hit the bridge connecting Crimea with Russia, warning that it would have devastating consequences for Ukraine’s leadership. .

« They will face Doomsday momentarily, » Medvedev said on Sunday. « It would be very difficult for them to hide. »

Medvedev, who has already been portrayed by the West as more liberal than Putin, said Russia will continue its action in Ukraine until it achieves its stated goal of « denazifying » and « demilitarizing » the country. He predicted that the fighting would « undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the existing regime » in Kyiv.

WATCH | What happened in week 21 of the Russian attack on Ukraine:

What happened in week 21 of the Russian attack on Ukraine

Russian missiles hit towns in central and southwestern Ukraine far from the front lines of the conflict and Ukraine said Canada’s decision to return turbines used in a pipeline to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany would be seen as a sign of weakness by Moscow. Here is a recap of the war in Ukraine from July 9-15.

Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday that Russian missiles destroyed a depot of Harpoon anti-ship missiles delivered to Ukraine by NATO allies, a claim that could not be independently confirmed.

The Russians, fearing a Ukrainian counter-offensive, also sought to reinforce their positions in the Kherson region near Crimea and in part of the northern Zaporizhzhia region which they seized at the start of the war.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that Russia was moving troops and equipment between Kherson, Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia, and tightening security measures around Melitopol.

He added: « Given the pressures on Russian manpower, the strengthening of the south as the struggle for Donbass continues indicates the seriousness with which Russian commanders view the threat. »

Fight for Donbass

For now, the Russian military has been focused on trying to take control of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, Donbass, which is home to Moscow-backed separatists and where the Ukrainian forces are located. more capable and better equipped.

Ukraine says its forces still retain control of two small villages in the Luhansk region, one of the two provinces that make up the Donbass, and are repelling Russian attempts to advance deeper into the second, the Donetsk region. .

The General Staff of the Ukrainian army said on Sunday that Ukrainian troops had thwarted Russian attempts to advance towards Sloviansk, the main Ukrainian stronghold in Donetsk, and attacks elsewhere in the region.

Yet Russian officials are urging their troops to produce even more territorial gains. During a visit to the front lines on Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave the order « to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas ».


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