Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expanded the investigation into his security services Monday, saying 28 more officials could be suspended, a day after sidelining two senior officials over allegations they failed to root out Russian collaborators.
In his nightly video address Monday, Zelenskyy said a "personnel audit" of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) was under way and that 28 officials were being considered for dismissal.
"Different levels, different areas of focus. But the reasons are similar — unsatisfactory results of work," Zelenskyy said.
The move comes one day after Zelenskyy announced the suspension of the country's top security chief, Ivan Bakanov, and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, pending further consideration as to whether they should be dismissed.
Zelenskyy cited what he said were hundreds of cases of alleged treason and collaboration with Russia, involving workers within the security service and prosecutor general's office.
On the battlefront, Russia continued its shelling campaign in Ukraine on Monday, killing six civilians in the eastern town of Toretsk, according to Ukrainian state emergency officials.
The State Emergency Service said on Facebook that a two-story shelter in the town had been destroyed and that rescuers found five bodies in the rubble and pulled out three people alive, but one later died in a hospital.
"The town of Toretsk was under fire today from early this morning. A two-story building sheltering people was destroyed as a shell slammed into it," the statement said.
A photograph showed rescuers digging through the rubble, but the emergency service said the search for survivors had been abandoned.
Russia has denied targeting civilians but has bombarded numerous nonmilitary sites in its nearly five-month onslaught, killing hundreds of people.
On the diplomatic front, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday he hopes there will be an agreement this week for Russia to end its blockade of Ukrainian ports in Odesa and elsewhere, with the lives of tens of thousands of people depending on such a deal amid food shortages in many countries.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Borrell said Russia must allow Ukrainian grain exports or else the international community will have to say Russia is "using food as a weapon without any consideration for human beings' lives."
"It's not a diplomatic game. It's an issue of life and death for many human beings," Borrell said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week there is "broad agreement" on a deal between Russia and Ukraine, along with Turkey and the United Nations, to export millions of tons of Ukrainian grain stuck in silos since Russia's invasion February 24.
Guterres spoke on the phone Monday with Zelenskyy to discuss the ongoing negotiations to export Ukrainian wheat, according to the United Nations.
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Monday there has been incremental progress with the negotiations, "but nothing to announce at this stage." He said Guterres is ready to travel to Istanbul if need be.
European Union foreign ministers pledged another $507 million in military aid to Ukraine after a video briefing by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the latest war developments.
Kuleba said he was "grateful" for the new funds, which brings the EU total to more than $2.5 billion, but still urged the 27 nations to provide more.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, "If anything needs to be continued, it is weapons deliveries," but also that it was essential to secure the port of Odesa to make sure grain shipments could resume.
Borrell said, "Ukraine needs more arms. We will provide them. The war will continue."
He said Russia has been using European reliance on Russian natural gas supplies against EU countries, but that EU leaders are preparing plans to "face any possible situation" and will not stop supporting Ukraine.
He added that EU members must have patience and resilience in carrying out the sanctions against Russia.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Monday with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the State Department.
A statement released by the State Department Monday night said, "Secretary Blinken commended First Lady Zelenska's work to help Ukrainians impacted by the war."
Blinken "reiterated that the United States will continue to provide assistance to help Ukraine respond to the significant economic and humanitarian challenges it faces, including supporting the First Lady's mental health initiative for citizens affected by the war," the statement said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken assured Zelenska of U.S. support of Ukraine and commended the first lady for her work helping civilians traumatized by the war.
Zelenska meets with U.S. first lady Jill Biden at the White House on Tuesday and addresses the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
Inside Ukraine, the country's military reported Monday that Russian shelling was ongoing in several areas, including the Slovyansk and Kharkiv regions.
In the Donetsk region, a main focus for Russia, Ukraine's military said Russian forces were trying to carry out an assault near Hryhorivka.
Britain's defense ministry said Russia's military is using the private military company Wagner to reinforce its front-line forces and make up for Russian casualties from the invasion.
"Wagner has almost certainly played a central role in recent fighting, including the capture of Popasna and Lysychansk. This fighting has inflicted heavy casualties on the group," the ministry said.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.