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Ukraine fires commander in huge move as Russia threatens complete takeover of Kharkiv

Ukraine has sacked its commander in Kharkiv as the key battleground city comes under intense attack from Russian forces.

Nazar Voloshyn told RBC-Ukraine media that the decision was made on Saturday, replacing the old commander with Brigadier General Mykhailo Drapatyi.

This comes amid fears Russia is about to take control of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

On Monday, Ukraine admitted that Russia is enjoying “tactical success” in the region.

Kharkiv’s governor, Oleh Syniehubov, told local TV: “The enemy is trying to deliberately stretch it [the frontline], attacking in small groups, but in new directions, so to speak.”

READ MORE: Ukraine commander accuses his men of ‘corruption and betrayal’

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Reports from the frontline have indicated that Russia is taking control of more villages as its troops continue to advance.

Multiple sources have claimed that Russian soldiers were able to enter the Kharkiv region unopposed.

Denys Yaroslavsky, a unit commander fighting in the area, said on Facebook: “The first line of fortifications and mines just didn’t exist.

“The enemy freely entered the grey area, across the border line, which in principle should not have been grey.

“We come to the conclusion that this is either insane theft or deliberate sabotage. I say this because we can die and no one will hear the truth. Then why is it all for?”

Oleksandr Yakovets, a senior military official, has denied any suggestion of sabotage. He said this is “absurd disinformation” that “devalues the efforts of the army engineers.”

Russia’s intensified attacks come after Vladimir Putin replaced his Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Putin signed a decree on Sunday appointing Shoigu as secretary of Russia’s Security Council, the Kremlin said.

The appointment was announced shortly after Putin proposed Andrei Belousov to become the country’s defense minister in place of Shoigu.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin had decided to give the defense minister role to a civilian because the ministry should be “open to innovation and cutting-edge ideas.”

He also said the increasing defense budget “must fit into the country’s wider economy,” and Belousov, who until recently served as the first deputy prime minister, is the right fit for the job.

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