The Russian army continues to put pressure on the Ukrainian defenders on the front in the east of the attacked country. The Ukrainian General Staff reported particularly fierce fighting in the town of Novomykhailivka, south of Donetsk. The military in Kiev said there were 21 attempted Russian advances there on Tuesday. A total of 51 ground battles were reported on the almost 1,000 kilometer long front line through eastern and southern Ukraine.

A change at the top of the National Security Council caused a stir in Kiev. President Volodymyr Zelensky fired the council’s secretary, Olexii Danilov, and replaced him with the previous head of foreign intelligence, Olexander Lytvynenko.

After several nights of heavy Russian air strikes, Wednesday night started relatively calmly for Ukraine. There was only an air alert in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which is constantly threatened by rocket fire from the nearby Russian region of Belgorod.

From there, a large number of incoming Ukrainian combat drones were reported. 18 aircraft were intercepted, said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. He initially spoke of an injured person. In some villages around the city of Belgorod there was damage to houses and cars. The information could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian front line still under pressure

Ukraine has been fending off a large-scale Russian invasion for more than two years now. In the fighting on the ground, the Ukrainian armed forces have been on the defensive for months, partly due to a lack of ammunition and air support. The Russian troops can muster more soldiers and material, and their attacks are supported by bombardments from the air. At Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region, Russian troops are trying to take a long-standing Ukrainian forward position.

Foreign observers such as the Institute for War Studies (ISW) in the USA also confirmed these fighting. The ISW also reported smaller Russian gains in territory west of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

New job for dismissed Security Council secretary

President Zelensky mentioned the dismissal of Security Council Secretary Danilov in his evening video message on Tuesday, but did not give any reasons. Danilov will be given a new task, he announced. In the presidential office, advisor Mykhailo Podoljak spoke of a normal rotation of staff. Almost a week ago, Danilov publicly insulted the Chinese mediator Li Hui on Ukrainian news television. He recently traveled to Kiev and Moscow to explore the possibility of a peace solution between the war opponents.

The 21-member Security Council in Ukraine includes members of the government, the intelligence chiefs, the prosecutor general, the head of the central bank and the president of the Academy of Sciences. The Council, chaired by the President, discusses national security issues. The secretary primarily carries out organizational tasks and reports directly to the head of state.

Oleh Ivashchenko was appointed as the new head of the foreign intelligence service. He was previously deputy head of the HUR military intelligence service. Zelensky has held on to most of his security comrades in more than two years of war. But over time, the leadership of the SBU secret service, the Ministry of Defense and, most recently, the army were replaced.