Russian shelling kills six; Ukraine president sacks security chief

Russian shelling kills six; Ukraine president sacks security chief

KYIV: Russian shelling of a town in eastern Ukraine on Monday killed six people, Kyiv said, as EU ministers meeting in Brussels insisted that the pressure of Western sanctions on Moscow was working.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile appointed an acting security chief, having announced the suspension of senior law enforcement officials late on Sunday.

Rescue workers in blue helmets were digging through debris and clearing rubble from a collapsed two-storey building in Toretsk in the industrial east that was struck by Russian artillery early on Monday.Emergency services said five people had been pulled dead from the rubble, while a sixth, seriously wounded, had died in hospital.

Toretsk, a town of around 30,000 residents, lies 50 kilometres south of Kramatorsk, a key target for Russian forces, who invaded Ukraine in late February. Russia’s troops have made gains in the eastern region of Donbas recently, capturing the sister cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

On Monday, pro-Moscow rebels claimed that their next target in Donbas — the town of Siversk — was under their control, an announcement that could not be independently verified.

Grain supply talks

Kyiv, Zelensky appointed 39-year-old Vasyl Malyuk — first deputy head of the SBU security services since March — as acting chief after pulling Ivan Bakanov from the post.

Andriy Smirnov, a deputy head of the presidential administration told Ukrainian television Monday that Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and Bakanov had been suspended to prevent them “potentially influencing criminal proceedings against employees of the Security Service of Ukraine”.

The night before, Zelensky said security officials were investigating more than 650 cases of suspected treason and aiding and abetting Russia, including 60 cases of officials in Russian-occupied territories working against Ukraine.

In Brussels, the EU’s foreign policy chief warned that Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports was threatening grain supplies to tens of thousands of people vulnerable to starvation and said it must end.

“It’s an issue of life and death for many human beings. And the question is that Russia has to de-block and allow Ukrainian grain to be exported,” Josep Borrell told reporters.

Zelensky tweeted that he had had talks with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. “Discussed the importance of resuming Ukrainian grain exports to prevent a global food crisis provoked by Russia,” he wrote.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are due to meet UN and Turkish diplomats in Istanbul Wednesday to try to agree an end to the months-long blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov meanwhile said the impasse would feature in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday in Tehran.

Stay with sanctions: Borrell

Borrell urged the EU not to falter on sanctions against Russia, insisting that they were working, days after Hungarian leader Viktor Orban said the penalties were harming Europe more than Russia. “It is what we had to do, and we will continue doing,” Borrell said.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned against “backing down and bowing to” Putin’s demands “will not work, it has never worked.” “This is a trap,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022


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