After the release of secret service chief Ivan Bakanov, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj announced further layoffs in the agency. The leadership in Kyiv is obviously dissatisfied with the work of their own reconnaissance and speaks of betrayal. Meanwhile, the EU leadership feels politically betrayed by individual member states in their Russia policy. Specifically, Viktor Orban is again suspected of torpedoing the sanctions policy of the European Union.
Zelenskyy has announced the dismissal of 28 employees of the Ukrainian secret service SBU. It is about posts and functions of different levels, “but the reasons are similar: unsatisfactory work results,” said Selenskyj in his daily video speech on Monday evening. The day before he had already suspended his secret service chief and childhood friend Ivan Bakanov and the Attorney General Iryna Venediktova.
Now Zelenskyj promised a revision of the entire work of the secret service. The Ukrainian President recently expressed his anger at the fact that more than 60 employees of the SBU and the General Prosecutor’s Office remained in the occupied territories. Kyiv sees this as high treason. However, the media also pointed out that the 47-year-old Bakanov, as a non-specialist, enjoyed little authority among his employees.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska, met Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the US on Monday. Ukraine’s first lady plans to ask for more help before Congress on Wednesday. The US is the largest arms supplier to Ukraine. The Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Monday thanked the Chief of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Mark Milley, for the delivery of the Himar rocket launchers. These would have helped to stabilize the situation at the front.
The sanctions policy of the EU against Russia is again causing discussions within the international community. At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell clearly criticized publicly expressed doubts about the EU’s course. At the same time, he made it clear that he believes the EU will stick to its policy. A seventh package of sanctions, including a gold embargo against Russia, is supposed to be approved this week. The next few days will show whether this will work. Deliberations on the details should not begin until Monday evening.
A few days before the meeting of foreign ministers, Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban had clearly criticized the EU’s sanctions policy – although the sanctions can only be decided unanimously, i.e. only with Hungarian support. At first he still believed that they had only “shot themselves in the foot”, but now it is clear that it was a shot in the lungs of the European economy, which is now struggling for air everywhere, Orban said on Hungarian radio on Friday.
The US House of Representatives supports Finland and Sweden joining NATO. On Monday evening (local time), MPs voted 394 to 18 for a corresponding resolution. In it they express their support for the “historic decision” by Finland and Sweden and call on all NATO members to ratify the accession protocols quickly.
Two months ago, Finland and Sweden applied to join the Western Defense Alliance after the Russian attack on Ukraine. According to information from Stockholm, half of the NATO countries have already approved the accession of Sweden and Finland. Particular attention is now being paid to how the ratification process is progressing in Turkey.
There is also dissatisfaction on the other side: Russia has promised Ukraine tougher conditions than before if peace talks are resumed. During the negotiations in Turkey in March, concrete results were achieved before Kyiv broke off contact, Yuri Ushakov, an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, complained on Monday, according to the RBK news agency. “So if the negotiations are resumed now, it will be on completely different terms,” said Ushakov – without giving details.
Meanwhile, the Russian authorities are cracking down on criticism of the war in their own country. According to civil rights activist Pavel Chikov, the Interior Ministry, the investigative committee and the FSB secret service have meanwhile opened 200 criminal proceedings against opponents of the war. In many cases, the controversial fake law that was passed in summary proceedings in March serves as the basis for criminal prosecution. Overall, however, the authorities resort to 22 different paragraphs to suppress criticism of the war, which in Moscow can only be called a “military special operation”.