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Zelenskyy tightens grip on absent officials amid escalating conflict

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a press conference at the Ukraine peace summit in Obbürgen, Switzerland.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a press conference at the Ukraine peace summit in Obbürgen, Switzerland. Copyright Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2024. The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2024. The AP. All rights reserved.
By Daniel HarperAP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken a tough stance on officials neglecting frontline duties while Russian attacks in Donetsk escalate.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has began to crack down on officials who are perceived to neglect their duties in the ongoing efforts against Russia's full-scale invasion, which is now in its third year.

During a visit to the eastern Donetsk region, Zelenskyy and Commander in Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi met with troops who have faced intense Russian ground and air assaults in recent months.

Discussions with local officials covered essential topics such as drinking water supply, social issues, evacuation plans, and the reconstruction of damaged homes.

Back in Kyiv, Zelenskyy announced plans to address officials who have been absent from frontline areas for extended periods.

During his visit to Donetsk, Zelenskyy introduced the new commander of the Joint Forces Command, Andrii Hnatov, who replaced Yurii Sodol.

The change in command follows criticism from the chief of staff of the Azov regiment, Bohdan Krotevych, who accused an unnamed general of errors in management leading to Ukrainian casualties, a comment widely interpreted as directed at Sodol.

Escalation in Donetsk amid further media restrictions

Prior to Zelenskyy's visit, Russian forces launched an attack on the city of Selydove in the region of Donetsk, causing damage to numerous homes and infrastructure, though no injuries were reported.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian shelling has affected 20 settlements in the region, resulting in one death and at least nine injuries.

The ongoing assaults have forced the evacuation of around 250 residents since Tuesday.

Ukrainian troops in the town of Chasiv Yar have been under continued Russian attacks, disrupting troop rotations and supply deliveries. The town remains a focal point in the conflict following the fall of nearby Bakhmut to Russian forces last year.

Ukraine's military efforts are bolstered by Western military aid, with recent deliveries of American ammunition reaching frontline positions.

Ukrainian soldiers of 43rd artillery brigade ride atop on 2s7 self-propelled howitzer before firing towards Russian positions at the frontline in Donetsk region.
Ukrainian soldiers of 43rd artillery brigade ride atop on 2s7 self-propelled howitzer before firing towards Russian positions at the frontline in Donetsk region.Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

The US is poised to announce an additional $150 million (€140.3m) in munitions support, while Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala confirmed the arrival of ammunition shipments under the country's initiative.

The acquisition of 800,000 artillery shells from outside the EU is also underway to address the depletion of stockpiles.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said that the impact of new Western weaponry will take time to show.

Meanwhile, Russian attacks continue to target civilian infrastructure, with recent strikes in the Kharkiv region causing significant damage but no reported injuries.

Ukraine and Russia conducted a prisoner exchange, each side releasing 90 detainees in a swap mediated by the United Arab Emirates, fifth of its kind this year.

Meanwhile, media restrictions have intensified, with Russia responding to the EU’s ban on four Moscow-funded media outlets by blocking access to 81 European media entities.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that these actions were a response to what it describes as politically motivated repressions against Russian journalists.

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