Zelenskiy fires security agency head, prosecutor

And other key developments on the ground.
Site of a rocket strike on July 14 in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Image: Alexey Furman/Getty
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy removed his national security head and Ukraine’s top prosecutor, alleging that some employees collaborated with Russian intelligence. The firings, which target sensitive posts for a country at war, include Security Service chief Ivan Bakanov, a personal friend whose agency’s tasks include counterintelligence.

Russia’s defense minister instructed military units to step up combat activity in Ukraine as advanced Western weapons boost Kyiv’s counterattack capabilities. A UK defense official said 50,000 Russian troops have been killed and injured.

Key developments

  • Russian Assets Barely Touched Across EU With $14 Billion Seized
  • Naftogaz CEO Says Ukraine Pushed It to Delay Bond Payments
  • Russia Visited Iran to View Drone Capabilities, US Official Says

On the Ground

A week ahead of the war’s five-month mark, Russian troops have been commanded by the nation’s defense minister “to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas.” Sergei Shoigu’s directive on Saturday followed a series of deadly missile strikes on civilian targets far from the front lines. On Sunday, Russian rocket strikes on the Zaporizhzhia region triggered field fires, state officials said. Russian missiles hit an industrial facility in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, the city’s mayor said. Ukraine’s troops repelled Russia’s advance near villages close to the town of Bahkmut, which together with Siversk is the next target for Kremlin’s offensive in the east, according to an update from military headquarters in Kyiv. In the Kharkiv region Russia’s troops are focusing their efforts on holding defence to prevent Ukrainian counterattacks.

(All times CET)

Ukraine Says Russian Warships Moved From Crimea (10:12 p.m.)

Ukraine’s navy has concluded that Russia moved a number of warships from Sevastopol in occupied Crimea to the Russian port of Novorossiysk, shifting them eastward away from the Ukrainian-held coastal areas, the Ukrinform national news agency reported. It cited a Telegram post by Serhiy Bratchuk, adviser to the head of the Odesa regional military administration.

Zelenskiy Cites Treason by Security Officials (9:35 p.m.)

Zelenskiy said his state security chief and Ukraine’s top prosecutor had to go because more than 60 employees of the two agencies were working against Ukrainian interests in Russian-occupied areas. He cited multiple probes into state treason, allegedly committed by law enforcement officers in frontline regions, including Kherson and Kharkiv.

Crimes against national security, “and ties between Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies and Russia’s intelligence service that have been recorded, put very serious questions to the respective chiefs,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

Under pressure from Ukraine’s western partners, he also called for the appointment of a new head of Ukraine’s anti-graft prosecution office and a process to pick the head of a separate anti-graft agency. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is among those pressing Zelenskiy for those actions.

Zelenskiy Removes State Security Head, Prosecutor (8:55 p.m.)

Ukraine’s president removed State Security Service head Ivan Bakanov from office and replaced the country’s top prosecutor, according to official decrees published late Sunday. Bakanov was dismissed under a “disciplinary statute.”

He and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, who has opened thousands of cases of alleged Russian war crimes, were removed under presidential wartime powers.

Bakanov is part of a circle of Zelenskiy friends from his days as a television comedian. He fell out of favor after a series of failures and the loss of the Kherson region, Politico reported in June.

Dissident Journalist Reported Detained in Russia (8 p.m.)

Russian police detained journalist Marina Ovsyannikova in Moscow region, Novaya Gazeta Evropa reported.

Ovsyannikova, who held up an anti-war sign on the air during a state-run television channel’s news show in March in a rare example of open opposition, was “taken away in an unknown direction,” her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told the outlet.

Ovsyannikova held one-woman protest near Kremlin in Moscow on Friday, featuring a poster saying President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the deaths of 352 children in the Ukraine war.

Hundreds of Outbound Trucks Stuck at Latvia Border (5:47 p.m.)

Some 1,250 trucks were stuck at two Latvian border crossings with Russia on Sunday, according to the State Revenue Service. Waiting times ranged up to 153 hours.

Lines also formed at Latvia’s border with Belarus with some 450 trucks sitting at two crossings and waiting times of 32 to 67 hours.

July 10 marked the end of a transition period which allowed sanctioned goods to be exported from the European Union to Russia, and to be imported to the EU from Russia under previously concluded deals.

50,000 Russian Soldiers Killed or Injured: UK Defense Official (5:41 p.m.)

Russia has lost more than 30% of its land combat effectiveness in Ukraine, Admiral Tony Radakin, chief of the defense staff for the UK, said on Sunday.

“What that actually means is 50,000 Russian soldiers that have either died or been injured in this conflict,” Radakin told the BBC. He estimated that nearly 1,700 Russian tanks and nearly 4,000 Russian armored fighting vehicles had been destroyed as the war in Ukraine nears the end of its fifth month.

Zelenskiy Marks 2014 MH17 Crash Anniversary (1:36 p.m.)

Ukraine’s president recalled the 298 victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in 2014, promising to punish Moscow for the jet’s alleged downing and other actions.

The “most convincing scenario” is that the jet was hit by a Russian-supplied Buk surface-to-air missile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said last month. A trial began in March in The Hague, Netherlands, with a verdict likely by year-end.

“Nothing will go unpunished! Every criminal will be brought to justice!”, Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

Ukrainian Plane Crashes in Greece Transporting Ammo to Bangladesh (12:33 a.m.)

Ukrainian officials traveled to inspect the site where a Ukrainian-registered cargo plane crashed overnight in northern Greece, en route from Serbia to Jordan and on to Bangladesh.

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the plane had been carrying Serbian-made mortar ammunition purchased by Bangladesh, the Associated Press reported.

Russia Braces for Counterattacks in South, UK Says (7:22 a.m.)

Moscow is reinforcing its defensive positions across occupied areas in Ukraine’s south, likely in response to anticipated counteroffensives, the UK defence ministry said on Twitter.

That includes the movement of manpower, equipment and defensive stores between Mariupol and Zaporizhia, and in Kherson, as well as increased security measures in Melitopol.

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