Ukraine warns of Russia disinformation campaign targeting Zelenskyy

The Ukrainian government has called on people to be vigilant against Russian disinformation questioning the legitimacy of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's presidency.

Zelenskyy's five-year term as president was supposed to end on Monday, but he remains in office. A presidential election, which was scheduled for March, didn't take place amid the martial law imposed after Russia started its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service said in a statement on Monday that support for Zelenskyy from Ukrainian citizens is dwindling. The agency said the Ukrainian president felt his position was vulnerable, and that he was desperately trying to get rid of anyone he cannot rely on ahead of the end of his term.

The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has questioned the political legitimacy of President Zelenskyy. But a February poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, a Ukrainian opinion survey company, found that 69 percent of citizens think Zelenskyy should stay in office until martial law is lifted.

Ukraine's Center for Countering Disinformation on Monday urged caution against false information spread by Russia. It said Russia hopes to provoke a political crisis in order to weaken international support for Ukraine, as well as to undermine its defense capabilities.

Fierce fighting continues in eastern Ukraine. Russia's defense ministry said its troops in the Luhansk region have taken control of Bilohorivka -- a settlement Ukrainian forces had recaptured in September 2022. Ukraine's military denied this, saying on social media that their soldiers were holding back the onslaught of the enemy.