Baltimore Sun

Zelenskyy fires security service chief, prosecutor

Russian military presses to expand into Ukraine’s east

- By Hanna Arhirova and Cara Anna

VINNYTSIA, Ukraine — As Russia’s military pressed its efforts to expand into Ukraine’s east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the head of the country’s security service and its prosecutor general on Sunday, citing hundreds of criminal proceeding­s into treason and collaborat­ion by people within their department­s.

“In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU have remained in the occupied territory and work against our state,” Zelenskyy said.

“Such an array of crimes against the foundation­s of the state’s national security, and the links recorded between Ukrainian security forces and Russian special services raise very serious questions about their respective leaders,’’ he said.

He dismissed Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktov­a and replaced her with her deputy Oleksiy Symonenko. He also dismissed Ivan Bakanov, the head of Ukraine’s security service, the SBU. Bakanov was a longtime friend of Zelenskyy’s, according to Ukrainian news agencies.

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

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

The Russian military has declared a goal to cut off Ukraine’s entire Black Sea coast all the way to the Romanian border. If successful, such an effort would deal a crushing blow to the Ukrainian economy and trade, and allow Moscow to secure a land bridge to Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistr­ia, which hosts a Russian military base.

Early in the campaign,

Ukrainian forces fended off Russian attempts to capture Mykolaiv, which sits near the Black Sea coast between Russia-occupied Crimea and the main Ukrainian port of Odesa. Since then, Russian troops have halted their attempts to advance in the city but have continued to pummel both Mykolaiv and Odesa with regular missile strikes.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenko­v said Sunday that Russian missiles destroyed a depot for antiship Harpoon missiles delivered to Ukraine by NATO allies, a claim that couldn’t be independen­tly confirmed.

The Russians, fearing a Ukrainian counteroff­ensive, also sought to reinforce their positions in the Kherson region near Crimea and in part of the northern Zaporizhzh­ia region that they seized in the opening stage of the war.

The British Defense Ministry said Sunday that Russia is moving troops and equipment between Kherson, Mariupol and Zaporizhzh­ia, and increasing security measures around Melitopol.

It added: “Given the pressures

on Russian manpower, the reinforcem­ent of the south whilst the fight for the Donbas continues indicates the seriousnes­s with which Russian commanders view the threat.”

The Russian military has focused on trying to take control of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of the Donbas, where the most capable and well-equipped Ukrainian forces are located.

Ukraine says its forces still retain control of two small villages in the Luhansk region, one of the two provinces that make up the Donbas, and are fending off

Russian attempts to advance deeper into the second one, the Donetsk region.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said Sunday that Ukrainian troops thwarted Russian attempts to advance toward Sloviansk, the key Ukrainian stronghold in Donetsk and other attacks in the region.

On Sunday in central Ukraine, relatives and friends attended a funeral for Liza Dmytrieva, a 4-yearold girl killed Thursday in a Russian missile strike.

The girl with Down syndrome was en route to see a speech therapist

with her mother when the missiles struck the city of Vinnytsia. At least 24 people were killed, including Liza and two boys, ages 7 and 8. More than 200 others were wounded, including Liza’s mother, who remains in an intensive care unit.

“I didn’t know Liza, but no person can go through this with calm,” priest Vitalii Holoskevyc­h said, bursting into tears as Liza’s body lay in a coffin with flowers and teddy bears in the 18th-century Transfigur­ation Cathedral in Vinnytsia.

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

 ?? EFREM LUKATSKY/AP ?? A woman carries a portrait of Liza, a 4-year-old girl said to be killed by a Russian attack, during a funeral ceremony Sunday in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
EFREM LUKATSKY/AP A woman carries a portrait of Liza, a 4-year-old girl said to be killed by a Russian attack, during a funeral ceremony Sunday in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

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