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Zelenskyy ousts more aides amidst Russian assault

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has executed a significant shakeup in his administration, dismissing a longtime aide and several advisers on Saturday, as Russia intensifies its attacks across Ukraine.

In a notable move, Zelenskyy relieved Serhiy Shefir of his duties as the first assistant, a position Shefir had held since 2019. Additionally, three advisers and two presidential representatives responsible for volunteer activities and soldiers’ rights were also let go in the latest round of dismissals.

While the rationale behind these personnel changes remains undisclosed, this latest reshuffle is part of a broader restructuring witnessed over recent months. Notably, on Tuesday, Oleksii Danilov, the former secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, was dismissed, along with Valerii Zaluzhnyi, who was relieved of his duties as head of the armed forces on Feb. 8. Zaluzhnyi was subsequently appointed as Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Simultaneously, as Zelenskyy undertook these internal adjustments, Russia escalated its assault on Ukrainian territory. According to Ukraine’s air force, Russia deployed 12 Shahed drones overnight, with nine successfully intercepted, and four missiles targeted eastern Ukraine.

In a relentless onslaught over the last 24 hours, Russia launched 38 missiles, conducted 75 airstrikes, and launched 98 attacks from multiple rocket launchers, as reported by Ukraine’s armed forces on social media.

The impact of these attacks on vital infrastructure is grave. Centrenergo, a Ukrainian energy company, confirmed the complete destruction of the Zmiiv Thermal Power Plant, a crucial facility in the eastern Kharkiv region, following Russian shelling last week. Consequently, approximately 120,000 individuals in the region continue to endure power outages, exacerbating the plight of the 700,000 residents who lost electricity after the initial strike on March 22.

Furthermore, Russian assaults on Ukrainian energy infrastructure have intensified in recent days, inflicting significant damage across several regions. Notably, officials in the Poltava region reported multiple strikes on an unspecified infrastructure facility on Saturday, raising concerns about further disruptions to essential services.

As the toll of Friday’s devastating barrage of 99 drones and missiles becomes apparent, the loss of civilian lives underscores the gravity of the situation. Local officials in the Kherson region confirmed the death of one civilian, while another resident from the Dnipropetrovsk region succumbed to injuries sustained from shell wounds, as announced by regional Governor Serhiy Lisak.

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