The reported dismissal was linked to Moscow’s operations in Kharkov region.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine has replaced a senior commander amid Russia’s continued advance toward the city of Kharkov, local media reported on Monday.

Ukraine’s second-largest city is located in the country’s northeast and is defended by the Kharkov operative tactical group. Last weekend, the military leadership decided to replace the formation’s commander, Yury Galushkin, RBK-Ukraine claimed, citing the Khortitsa operative strategic group, to which the force belongs. Galushkin took charge of the group in early April.

Brigade General Mikhail Drapaty was selected as his replacement, the report added. The senior official will also remain deputy chair of the Ukrainian general staff, a position that he took in February amid a major reshuffle in the military.

Russian forces have secured a number of villages in Kharkov Region since last Friday, according to Defense Ministry statements and reports on the ground. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky described the battlefield changes as the locations moving from “the gray zone” to the “zone of fighting.”

Read more Russia goes on the offensive: Here’s what’s behind the advance in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region

The latest advancements reported on Monday took place near the settlements of Volchansk, Neskuchnoye, Liptsi and Vesyoloe in Kharkov Region. The Russian Defense Ministry has reported that Kiev’s forces have suffered up to 250 casualties and lost two tanks, two armored combat vehicles and 17 other motor vehicles in the past 24 hours.

Ukrainian forces have been using Kharkov and the surrounding territory for months to stage cross-border attacks on Belgorod, which has a population of nearly 400,000 people. Its proximity has allowed Ukrainian troops to regularly shell the Russian city with multiple rocket launch systems.

The threat to Kharkov and potential exodus of its residents “could demoralize Ukrainians and its allies,” The New York Times warned on Sunday. It could “give the impression that after two years and hundreds of thousands of casualties and billions of dollars, little has changed” in the conflict, the newspaper said. Kiev could be pressured “to negotiate a truce with Russia” as a result, the outlet suggested.

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