A top Russian official and his warning that an attack on Crimea would result in “doomsday” for Ukraine drew derision from an adviser to Ukraine’s president Sunday.
The deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said Sunday that “clowns, who pop up there with some statements now and then, are trying to threaten us” with attacks on Crimea. Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014.
“Should anything of the kind happen, they will be faced with a doomsday, very quick and tough, immediately,” Medvedev, who served as president 2008-2012, told state-run Tass. “There will be no avoiding it.”
Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, dismissed Medvedev as “a little man forgotten by history, trying to seem serious and scary, but in reality causing only pity. ‘A little more, and I’ll show you all!’ Show what? Kill another child?”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that Sunday marked eight years since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people aboard were killed. Four Russian-backed separatist face charges in the Netherlands.
“It is definitely possible to bring all Russian war criminals to justice,” he said. “All those responsible for terror. For everything that happens during 144 days (since the war began) and in more than eight years. It will be done.”
►More than 1,000 Ukrainian children have been killed or wounded in the war, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said. The death toll: 353. Most victims among children are from the hotly contested Donetsk region.
►Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk writes in The Atlantic that the war has done more than force Ukrainians to fight for their land and freedom: “It has accelerated our progress as a democracy.”
►The bodies of 1,346 residents killed by invading Russian troops have been found in the Kyiv region, and another 300 people are considered missing, said Andrii Nebytov, head of the National Police Department of Kyiv region.
►A Ukraine cargo plane carrying military equipment and ammunition crashed in Greece, killing all eight Ukrainians aboard. Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry, said the pilot reported engine trouble minutes before the crash.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a shakeup of top officials Sunday, dismissing Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, and replacing her with her deputy, Oleksiy Symonenko. Also ousted: Security Service chief Ivan Bakanov.
Zelenskyy said that more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the Security Service in the occupied territory are working “against our state.” More than 65 criminal proceedings have been started regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies and other law enforcement agencies, he said.
“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security … detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership,” Zelenskyy said in a statement. “Each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”
Russia has lost more than 30% of its land combat effectiveness in Ukraine, but military issues won’t prompt regime change in the invading country, Britain’s top military official said Sunday.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of defense staff, dismissed any suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be toppled or assassinated as “wishful thinking.” But Ukraine’s spirited defense, aided by NATO weaponry, has set back Russian plans for swift victory, he said.
“What that actually means is 50,000 Russian soldiers that have either died or been injured in this conflict,” Radakin told the BBC. “Nearly 1,700 Russian tanks destroyed, nearly 4,000 armored fighting vehicles that belong to Russia destroyed.”
Still, Putin’s regime is viewed as stable and the Russian president continues to easily quash opposition, Radakin said. Russia’s hierarchy is “invested” in Putin, he said, removing the motivation to challenge his authority.
Dozens of relatives, friends and residents in the central city of Vinnytsia gathered Sunday to say goodbye to 4-year-old Liza Dmitrieva, Dmitrieva was one of 24 people killed in a July 14 rocket attack. Photos from the scene show the girl’s body lying in a tiny coffin covered in teddy bears and flowers. Liza, who had Down syndrome, and her mother had just left a speech therapist when the attack took place. She died instantly; her mother remains hospitalized in serious condition with an abdominal injury.
“I didn’t know Liza, but no person can go through this with calm,” priest Vitalii Holoskevych said at the Transfiguration Cathedral in Vinnytsia. ‘’We know that evil cannot win.”
Ukraine emergency services posted reports of the attack on Facebook, including a mention of Liza: “The little girl … who was killed by the Russians today, became a ray of the sun. Sorry baby for not saving u.”
The Ukraine military said the cruise missiles were fired from a submarine hundreds of miles away in the Black Sea. Two boys, 7 and 8, also died in the assault, officials said. About 200 people were injured, 80 were hospitalized.
Russian airstrikes are focused on Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine that is near the Black Sea coast between Russian-occupied Crimea and the Ukrainian port of Odesa. Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said the Russian missiles struck an industrial and infrastructure facility in the city, a key shipbuilding center in the estuary of the Southern Bug river. There was no immediate information about casualties.
The attacks are part of a larger effort by the Kremlin to shore up its positions near Crimea, we well as the Zaporizhzhia region in the north, according to the latest update from the British Defense Ministry on Sunday. At the same time, Ukrainian troops are pushing back.
“Ukrainian forces have been applying pressure on the Russian defensive line in Kherson Oblast for over a month now, and recent political statements from both Zelenskky and the Deputy Prime Minister have warned of forthcoming offense operations to force Russia out of the areas it currently controls,” the ministry tweeted.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave “instructions to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas, in order to exclude the possibility of the Kyiv regime launching massive rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements in the Donbas and other regions,” his ministry said Saturday.
Though Russia’s campaign is focused on the eastern Donbas, attacks Saturday struck areas in the north and south of Ukraine as well. The country’s second-largest city of Kharkiv saw heavy bombardment in recent days.
International doping authorities approved special exemptions for seven Ukrainian athletes, allowing them to compete in world championships though they hadn’t been tested enough in the lead-up to the competition due to the war in their country. The Athletics Integrity Unit ruled that the other 15 Ukrainians, along with 134 athletes from five other countries categorized as “high risk” because of poor testing protocols, were entered into the championships. No athletes from any of the countries are being excluded.
At the Olympics last year, 20 athletes were not allowed to participate under what’s known as “Rule 15,” which was designed to bring Ukraine, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Belarus into compliance with global testing rules.
Contributing: The Associated Press