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Ukraine’s Zelenskyy fires top security chief and prosecutor

VINNYTSIA, Ukraine – As Russian troops stepped up their offensive in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the director of state security and the prosecutor general on Sunday, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings. is treason and the cooperation of those in their ministries and other law enforcement agencies.

“In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU (state security agency) stayed in the occupied territory and worked against our state,” Zelenskyy said.

“The series of crimes against the national security foundation of the state and the documented contacts between the Ukrainian security forces and the Russian special services raise very serious questions about the leaders. their respective’,” he said in his nightly address to the nation.

Zelenskyy fired Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend and former business partner he had appointed head of the SBU. Bakanov has come under increasing criticism for security breaches since the war began; Politico last month cited unidentified Ukrainian and Western sources as saying Zelenskyy was looking to replace him.

He also dismissed Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and replaced her with her deputy, Oleksiy Symonenko. Venediktova helped lead war crimes investigations.

Meanwhile, Russian missiles hit earlier industrial facilities at Mykolaiv, an important shipbuilding center in southern Ukraine. Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said the missile hit an infrastructure and industry. Mykolaiv has faced frequent Russian missile attacks in recent weeks as the Russians seek to soften Ukraine’s defenses.

The Russian military has announced its goal of cutting off Ukraine’s entire Black Sea coast as far as the Romanian border. If successful, such an effort would deal a major blow to Ukraine’s economy and trade, while also allowing Moscow to secure a land bridge to Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, home to a military base of Russia.

Early in the campaign, Ukrainian forces resisted Russian attempts to capture Mykolaiv, located near the Black Sea coast between Russian-occupied Crimea and the main Ukrainian port of Odesa. Since then, the Russian military has stopped trying to enter the city but has continued to attack both Mykolaiv and Odesa with regular missile attacks.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday that Russian missiles destroyed a depot of Harpoon anti-ship missiles transferred to Ukraine by NATO allies, a claim that cannot be confirmed. independence.

The Russians, fearing a Ukrainian counterattack, also sought to consolidate their positions in the Kherson area near Crimea and part of the northern Zaporizhzhia region they had captured in the opening phase of the conflict. war.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday: “In the face of pressures on Russian manpower, the strengthening of the south as the fight for the Donbas continues demonstrates the seriousness with which Russian commanders view the threat.” , the British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.

Currently, the Russian military is focused on trying to control Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, home to the most capable and well-equipped Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine says its forces retain control of two small villages in the Luhansk region, one of the two provinces that make up the Donbas, and are resisting Russian efforts to push deeper into a second zone, the region. Donetsk region.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Sunday that Ukrainian troops had thwarted Russian efforts towards Sloviansk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in Donetsk, and attacks elsewhere in the region.

However, Russian officials are urging their military to create more territory. During a visit to the front lines on Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered “further strengthen the activities of units in all operational areas.”

The Russian military said it hit Ukrainian troops and artillery positions in the Donbas in the latest series of air strikes, including a launch of a US-supplied HIMARS multi-role missile. Russia’s claims cannot be independently verified.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, responded to claims by Ukrainian officials that Kyiv could attack the bridge connecting Crimea and Russia, warning that it would cause serious problems. serious consequences for the Ukrainian leadership.

“They will have to face the Apocalypse momentarily,” Medvedev said on Sunday. “It will be difficult for them to hide.”

Medvedev, once seen by the West as more liberal than Putin, said Russia will step up its offensive until it accomplishes its stated goal of “demilitarizing” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine. . He predicted the fighting “will inevitably lead to the collapse of the current regime” in Kyiv.

Zelenskyy condemned Medvedev’s Doomsday comment as “threat” and said Russia would eventually face “Judgment Day”.

“And not figuratively, not loudly, but literally,” he said Sunday.

While focusing on the Donbas, the Russians hit areas across the country with missile attacks.

In central Ukraine, relatives and friends attended Sunday’s funeral for Liza Dmytrieva, a 4-year-old girl killed on Thursday in a Russian missile attack. The girl with Down syndrome was on her way to see a speech therapist with her mother when rockets hit the city of Vinnytsia. At least 24 people were killed, including Liza and two boys, aged 7 and 8. More than 200 others were injured, including Liza’s mother, who is still in the intensive care unit.

“I don’t know Liza, but no one can calmly get through this,” said priest Vitalii Holoskevych, crying as Liza’s body lay in a coffin with flowers and teddy bears in the 18th-century Church of the Transfiguration in Vinnytsia .

“We know that evil cannot win,” he added.

In the Kharkiv region, at least three civilians were killed and three others injured Saturday in a Russian pre-dawn attack on the city of Chuhuiv, just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Russian border, police said. said.

A resident of the apartment complex that was hit by the collision said she was lucky to be alive.

“I was going to run and hide in the bathroom. I didn’t make it and that’s what saved me,” said Valentina Bushuyeva. Pointing to her demolished apartment, she said: “This is the bathroom – the explosion. Kitchen – half room. And I survived because I stayed. “

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Anna reports from Pokrovsk, Ukraine.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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