Volodymyr Zelensky dismisses his security chief and his general prosecutor | War in Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky fires his security chief and prosecutor general | War in Ukraine

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has just removed from office two senior Ukrainian officers, one of whom was a childhood friend of his.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday evening sacked the country's chief prosecutor and security service chief on suspicion of treason by some of their subordinates to benefit the Russians, on the eve of a meeting of the #x27;EU to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.

I took the decision to relieve Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, and the head of the security services (SBU) Ivan Bakanov, Zelensky said, as Russia continues its bombardment of several Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian authorities are investigating more than 650 cases of suspected treason by local officials, including 60 in areas occupied by Russian and pro-Russian forces, he added in his evening address.

“Such a large number of crimes against national security foundations and the links established between Ukrainian law enforcement officials and Russian special services ask very serious questions to the leaders concerned. Each of these questions will be answered.

—Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine

General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova and Head of Security Service (SBU) Ivan Bakanov at a press conference in May 2021.

Ms. Venediktova notably led the investigation into the alleged atrocities committed at the start of the invasion by Russian forces in the town of Boutcha, a suburb north-west of kyiv, which in the eyes of the West has become a symbol of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers will debate tougher sanctions against Moscow, the successive salvos adopted so far have isolated and hit Russia hard economically, without making it back down or abandoning its invasion launched on February 24.

They must consider two European Commission proposals to ban gold purchases from Russia to bring EU sanctions in line with those of its G7 partners, and to list new Russian personalities on the EU blacklist.

Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression, European Commission President Ursula said on Friday von der Leyen, after transmitting the new measures to the twenty-seven.

The Russian army has already lost 50,000 men dead or wounded and thousands of armored personnel, according to the British Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin , more than 30% of its effectiveness in ground combat.

However, the challenge posed by Russia will last, he warned, stressing that betting on a problem Vladimir Putin's health or that he would end up being assassinated was wishful thinking.

The Kremlin ruler claimed earlier this month that the Russian military had yet to get serious, and his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last week ordered further increased pressure. military.

Just three days after cruise missile strikes devastated the center of Vinnytsia, hundreds of kilometers from the front, killing at least 24, including children, and prompting European Union denunciation of barbaric behavior, the bombardments continue.

Russia's strikes on Vinnytsia on Thursday qualified as a “openly terrorist act” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia announced on Saturday that it had officially ended the operational pause of its army decreed eight days ago, and the bombardments resumed with more intensity in the Donbass, whose total control is the main short-term objective. from Moscow.

Donetsk, one of the two provinces of Donbass, has been targeted by the Russians (who) continue to bombard civilian infrastructure, especially medical establishments. x27;education, said the governor of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

Pro-Russian separatists who have held part of the same region since 2014 have accused Ukrainian forces of firing 60 rockets from Grad multiple rocket launchers at a neighborhood in Donetsk.

Apartment buildings were hit, they claimed, posting images of buildings reduced to rubble, with no reports of casualties.

In the northeast, missiles struck Kharkiv, the second largest city in the country, near the Russian border, overnight from Saturday to Sunday.

Raisa Kuval, 82, looks desolate after shelling in Kharkiv on July 16, 2022

Other strikes targeted Mykolaiv, a southern city near the Black Sea, and villages in the area, according to Vitaliy Kim, the local governor.

President Zelensky also again criticized on Sunday the Canadian decision, taken last week, to allow the return to Europe of turbines repaired in Canada and intended for the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream.

He said he told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he spoke to on the phone during the day, that the Ukrainians would never accept this decision, which he said violated the sanctions regime against Russia.

It's a question of compliance with sanctions. If there is a breach now, it won't be long before there are more, the president added, accusing Russia of gas blackmail and pointing out that there were other ways to get Russian gas to Europe.

In Russia, Russian journalist Marina Ovsiannikova, who became famous after appearing live on television with a sign criticizing Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, was arrested on Sunday, her entourage and her lawyer said.

Choosing prime time, Marina Ovsiannikova launched her message in front of millions of Russians in March 2022.< /p>

No official statement has been made on the reasons for her arrest, but it comes days after Ms Ovsiannikova demonstrated alone near the Kremlin holding up a placard criticizing the military intervention in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.

The war in Ukraine will enter its sixth month on July 24 and there is no overall civilian casualty toll from the conflict so far.

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