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Ukrainian president Zelensky dismisses senior aide as Russia launches fresh attacks

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on December 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. In his first known trip outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded, Zelensky met with U.S. President Joe Biden and outlined Ukraine's request for continued military aid. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed a long-time aide and several advisers in a continuing reshuffle while Russia unleashed fresh attacks overnight.

Mr Zelensky removed top aide Serhiy Shefir from his post of first assistant, where he had served since 2019.

The Ukrainian president also let go three advisers and two presidential representatives overseeing volunteer activities and soldiers’ rights.

No explanation was given immediately for the latest changes in a wide-reaching personnel shake-up over recent months.

It included the dismissal on Tuesday of Oleksii Danilov, who served as secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, and Valerii Zaluzhnyi as head of the armed forces on February 8. He was appointed Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom earlier this month.

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Ukraine’s air force said on Saturday that Russia launched 12 Shahed drones overnight, nine of which were shot down, and fired four missiles into eastern Ukraine.

Russia unleashed a barrage of 38 missiles, 75 air strikes and 98 attacks from multiple rocket launchers over the last 24 hours, Ukraine’s armed forces said in social media posts.

Ukrainian energy company Centrenergo announced on Saturday that the Zmiiv Thermal Power Plant, one of the largest thermal power plants in the eastern Kharkiv region, was completely destroyed following Russian shelling last week.

Power outage schedules were still in place for around 120,000 people in the region where 700,000 people lost electricity after the plant was hit on March 22.

Russia has escalated its attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure in recent days, causing significant damage in several regions.

Officials in the Poltava region said on Saturday there had been “several hits” to an infrastructure facility, without specifying whether it was an energy facility.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday’s barrage of 99 drones and missiles hitting regions across Ukraine was revealed on Saturday, with local officials in the Kherson region announcing the death of one civilian.

A resident of the Dnipropetrovsk region died in hospital from shell wounds, according to regional governor Serhiy Lisak.

By Associated Press Reporter