Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday (19 November) demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine’s military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military’s medical forces.
Zelenskyy’s move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.
“In today’s meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes.”
Zelenskyy said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.
“The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers,” he said.
This, he said, included a range of issues — better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.
Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, “tactical medicine” and rotation of servicemen.
Ukraine’s military reports on what it describes as advances in recapturing occupied areas in the east and south and last week acknowledged that troops had taken control of areas on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson region.
Ukrainian commander in chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi, in an essay published this month, said the war was entering a new stage of attrition and Ukraine needed more sophisticated technology to counter the Russian military.
While repeatedly saying advances will take time, Zelenskyy has denied the war is headed into a stalemate and has called on Kyiv’s Western partners, mainly the United States, to maintain levels of military support.
Ostashchenko was replaced by Major-General Anatoliy Kazmirchuk, head of a military clinic in Kyiv.
Her dismissal came a week after a Ukrainian news outlet suggested her removal, as well as that of others, was imminent following consultations with paramedics and other officials responsible for providing support to the military.
Drone attacks on Kyiv
Russia launched several waves of drone attacks on Kyiv early on Sunday for the second night in row, stepping up its assaults on the Ukrainian capital after several weeks of pause, the city’s military administration said.
“The enemy’s UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were launched in many groups and attacked Kyiv in waves, from different directions, at the same time constantly changing the vectors of movement along the route,” Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv’s military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.
“That is why the air raid alerts were announced several times in the capital.”
Ukraine’s Air Force said its air defence systems destroyed 15 of 20 Russia-launched Shahed kamikaze drones over Kyiv, Poltava and Cherkasy regions.
There had been no initial reports of “critical damage” or casualties, Popko said earlier. He also said that close to 10 of the drones were downed over Kyiv and its outskirts.
Cherkasy Governor Ihor Taburets said on Telegram that debris “slightly damaged” five houses but no people were injured. Kyiv’s region Governor Ruslan Kravchenko said an infrastructure object was damaged in the region. There were no casualties.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate comment from Russia.
Russia started carrying out strikes on Ukraine’s energy, military and transport infrastructure in October 2022, six months after Moscow’s troops failed to take over the capital and withdrew to Ukraine’s east and south.
Last winter Russia pounded Ukraine with hundreds of missiles and drones, leaving millions without electricity, heating and water during the coldest months of the year, before easing the assaults in the summer.
After a pause of 52 days, Moscow resumed air strikes on Kyiv this month. On Saturday, Ukrainian officials said all drones heading towards Kyiv were destroyed but some hit infrastructure facilities elsewhere in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy and other officials have warned that Russia would resume its large-scale bombardments of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure during the winter months.
(Edited by Georgi Gotev)
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