Ukraine’s President Zelensky ousts head of State Security Service

The site of a Russian rocket strike on 14 July 2022 in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. (Photo: Alexey Furman / Getty)

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 on Sunday.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky removed the head of his State Security Service, which is key to intelligence gathering during the war. Earlier, he marked the anniversary of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jetliner over Donetsk, which has been blamed on Russian-backed separatists.

A senior UK defence official said 50,000 Russian troops have been killed and injured as the war approaches the five-month mark.

Key Developments

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  • Naftogaz CEO Says Ukraine Pushed It to Delay Bond Payments
  • Russia Visited Iran to View Drone Capabilities, US Official Says
  • Flight That Crashed in Greece Carried Ammunition for Bangladesh

On the Ground

A week ahead of the war’s five-month mark, Russian troops have been commanded by the nation’s defence 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 the 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.

Zelensky removes State Security head, prosecutor

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 were removed under presidential wartime powers.

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

Dissident journalist reported detained in Russia 

Russian police detained journalist Marina Ovsyannikova in Moscow, 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 a one-woman protest near the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday, featuring a poster saying President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the deaths of 352 children in the war in Europe.

Hundreds of outbound trucks stuck at Latvia border 

About 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 about 450 trucks sitting at two crossings and waiting times of between 32 and 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 defence official 

Russia has lost more than 30% of its land combat effectiveness in Ukraine, Admiral Tony Radakin, chief of the defence 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 1,700 Russian tanks and 4,000 Russian armoured fighting vehicles had been destroyed as the war in Europe nears the end of its fifth month.

Zelensky marks 2014 MH17 crash anniversary

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!” Zelensky said on Twitter.

Ukrainian plane transporting ammo to Bangladesh crashes in Greece

Ukrainian officials travelled 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 Defence 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 Ukraine’s south, UK says

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.

Canada tells Putin’s technocrats they’re liable for war crimes 

Canada warned a Russian delegation participating in a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs in recent days that it views President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisers as personally responsible for aiding war crimes.

“Russia’s economic technocrats, who work to fund Putin’s war machine, are personally complicit in Russia’s war crimes, just as Putin’s generals are,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she told the group.

Zelensky vows to retake occupied areas

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine will gradually liberate the occupied areas of the country.

“It is obvious that any missiles and artillery of Russia will not succeed in breaking our unity and knocking us off our path,” Zelensky said on Saturday in his nightly video address, marking the anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of sovereignty from the then Soviet Union in 1990.

“It should be equally obvious that Ukrainian unity cannot be broken by lies or intimidation, fake information or conspiracy theories,” he said.

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