News Desk: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered generals to prioritise destroying Ukraine's long-range missile and artillery weapons after Western-supplied weapons were used to strike Russian supply lines.
Nearly five months since President Vladimir Putin ordered the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are grinding through the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and now occupy around a fifth of the country.
Shoigu, one of Putin's closest allies, inspected the Vostok group which is fighting in Ukraine, the defence ministry said.
Shoigu "instructed the commander to give priority to the enemy's long-range missile and artillery weapons," the defence ministry said.
The ministry also said the weapons were being used to shell residential areas of Russian-controlled Donbas and to deliberately set fire to wheat fields and grain storage silos.
The United States and its allies have supplied billions of dollars' worth of weaponry to Ukraine, including long-range arms which Kyiv says are beginning to help on the battlefield.
Ukraine has carried out a string of successful strikes on 30 Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs, using several multiple launch rocket systems recently supplied by the West.
Ukrainian emergency services said yesterday that Russian shelling had destroyed a building, killing six people in the town of Toretsk in the eastern region of Donetsk.
"Early in the morning, the town of Toretsk was shelled. A two-story building with people inside was destroyed," the emergency services said in a statement on social media.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky sidelined his childhood friend as head of Ukraine's security service, and another close ally as top prosecutor, in the biggest internal purge of the war, citing their failure to root out Russian spies.
Ivan Bakanov, head of the powerful SBU security agency, and Iryna Venediktova, the prosecutor general, had been emblematic of Zelensky's policy of putting young loyalists in charge of combatting corruption since sweeping to power in 2019.
But nearly five months after Russia's invasion, the president acknowledged that his two allies had failed to root out traitors and collaborators in their organisations, reports Reuters.
Zelensky said on Sunday the two had been removed from their posts. The deputy head of Zelensky's administration clarified yesterday that they had been suspended pending further investigation, rather than fired.
More than 60 officials from the SBU and prosecutor's office were working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territories, and 651 treason and collaboration cases had been opened against law enforcement officials, Zelensky said in a video address.
With the conflict grinding on and increasingly spilling out into global energy and food crises, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned yesterday that Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports threatens grain supplies to tens of thousands of people vulnerable to starvation and must end.
"It's an issue of life and death for many human beings. And the question is that Russia has to de-block and allow Ukrainian grain to be exported," Borrell told reporters.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will meet UN and Turkish diplomats in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss a possible agreement to end the months-long blockade of Ukraine's ports.