Zelensky strips two Ukrainian generals of their military rank: ‘All traitors will be punished’

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked two senior members of the Ukrainian national security service, labelling them as traitors and antiheroes.

In an early morning video address on Friday, as the war in Ukraine entered day 37, Mr Zelensky said he had fired Naumov Andriy Olehovych, the chief of the main department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and Kryvoruchko Serhiy Oleksandrovych, the head of the SBU in Kherson, the first major city that fell to the Russians.

“Something prevented them from determining where their homeland was” and they “violated their military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people”, the president said.

“Today another decision was made regarding anti-heroes,” he said. “I do not have time to deal with all the traitors, but they will gradually all be punished.”

He issued a wider warning to the Ukrainian forces, saying those “who break the military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people... will inevitably be deprived of high military ranks”.

“Random generals are out of our way!” he added.

It was a rare sight of internal dispute in the Ukrainian army, which has been fending against Moscow’s invasion since 24 February and dealt major blows to Mr Putin’s lofty ambitions of capturing Ukraine quickly by killing at least seven military generals and around 15,000 Russian troops.

Mr Zelensky said Russians were evil, keen on destruction and seemed to be from another world, adding that they are “monsters who burn and plunder, who attack and are bent on murder”.

The president warned that there are more “battles ahead” in Donbas and the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. “The situation in the south and in the Donbas remains extremely difficult.”

Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that his government had approved Mr Zekensky’s request of sending armoured Bushmaster vehicles that will be flown on Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes.

“We’re not just sending our prayers, we are sending our guns, we’re sending our munitions, we’re sending our humanitarian aid, we’re sending all of this, our body armour, all of these things and we’re going to be sending our armored vehicles, our Bushmasters, as well,” Mr Morrison said.

In his specific request to Canberra, the Ukrainian leader had said: ”The most terrible thing is that if we don’t stop Russia now, if we don’t hold Russia accountable, then some other countries of the world who are looking forward to similar wars against their neighbours will decide that such things are possible for them as well.”

British defence secretary Ben Wallace also said on Thursday that the UK and its allies will send more weapons to Ukraine.

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