Ukraine remains on 'high alert' for possible Russian air strikes

Zelensky dismisses senior government officials for treason

photo_camera AFP PHOTO / Ukrainian presidential press service - Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky delivers a video address in Kiev on 15 March 2022

The Ukrainian government is going through a major internal crisis. Ukrainian President Volodmir Zelensky has declared in a video the suspension of the head of the Ukrainian Security Agency (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, and the Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, for finding multiple cases of treason against Ukraine and its government after discovering that they might be collaborating with Russia.

Bakanov's dismissal has not come as a surprise to Security Agency officials as they have reported several criticisms of Bakanov's management since the beginning of the war. In addition, three former SBU officials were also indicted for state treason last March. 


Bakanov, appointed to the SBU post in 2019 and a close friend of Zelensky, was in charge of running his presidential campaign, although he was criticised by many who considered him unfit for the post.

On the other hand, Venediktova, the country's first female attorney general, has been accused by several US media outlets of having been involved in the management of Russian operations. For this reason, and in agreement with the Ukrainian president, she will be replaced by lawyer Oleksiy Symonenko. 

According to Zelensky, at least 60 former employees of these two organisations are allegedly working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas. This situation has led to a total of 651 cases of "collaboration and treason" being opened against Ukrainian officials. According to the president, this "set of crimes" goes against "the national security of the state" and states that "the detected connections between employees of the Ukrainian security forces and Russia's special services raise very serious questions for the relevant leaders". He added that he had also dismissed the security chiefs of the Kharkov and Kherson regions.

New Russian bombings

In addition to this internal crisis, the Ukrainian nation remains on "high alert" for further Russian air strikes. According to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, he has ordered an increase in military action "in all operational areas" to reduce Ukrainian defences, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of 16 civilians as a result of the new Russian offensives. According to the State Emergency Service, at least six people are reported to have died in the Ukrainian town of Torestk in Donetsk province. As of Sunday, more than 3,000 cruise missiles had been registered in Ukraine, making it "impossible to count the number of artillery and other shells that were used against our country and our people, but it is definitely possible to bring all Russian war criminals to justice," Zelensky said. 

In recent days, Russian troops have reportedly launched several attacks on Ukrainian positions in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine, especially in the city of Kharkov. According to the Pentagon, up to 150 Ukrainians have been killed in Russian attacks on civilian positions in the past two weeks.

Gas cuts ahead of winter

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has urged Europeans to reduce gas consumption in order to be able to supply themselves in winter, since the measures taken to deal with the energy crisis are "insufficient", even if Moscow decides to restore gas supplies through the NordStream 1 pipeline during the summer, something that is not yet assured.

The EU's executive director, Faith Birol, has therefore proposed emergency measures that would target industry, the gas sector and EU governments to coordinate joint action, as well as consumers. In a message published this week, Birol warned that "if such measures are not implemented now, Europe will be in an extremely vulnerable position and could face much more drastic cuts and reductions later".

Moreover, the Agency does not rule out the possibility of Russia cutting off supplies to Europe altogether, and says the EU's position is "incredibly precarious" in the face of this threat. Paradoxically, Moscow has continued to earn huge amounts of money from oil and gas sales. For the time being, the sanctions imposed on Moscow have not prevented Russia from earning, according to the Centre for Research on Clean Energy and Air (CREA), a total of 95 billion dollars from the sale of its hydrocarbons, which strengthens Russia's position on its energy dominance.

More in Politics
An Algerian military delegation in Washington to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, and a high-ranking American delegation in Algiers to put an end to a conflict that the Algerian regime has escalated over the last three years without giving the slightest reason. Will this Algerian-American rapprochement benefit the peoples of the region?

Algerian-American conflict: diplomatic intervention by Washington