The Russian army slammed into residential areas across Ukraine overnight as Ukrainian forces launched a counter-offensive to try to take back an occupied southern region, hitting the last working bridge over a river in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, Ukrainian officials said. authorities Saturday.
The mayor said three people were killed and 13 injured in a Russian rocket attack on Kramatorsk on Friday evening. The city is the headquarters of Ukrainian troops in the war-torn east.
The attack came less than a day after 11 other rockets were fired at the city, one of the two main Ukrainian-occupied cities in Donetsk province, the center of a Russian offensive to capture the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s defense ministry claimed on Saturday that its forces had taken control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk, the provincial capital claimed by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.
But Ukraine’s military command later said in a Facebook post that “fierce fighting continues” in the area.
Ukraine says advance payment on 2 small towns prevented
Russian forces and Kremlin-backed rebels are trying to take Ukrainian-occupied areas north and west of the city of Donetsk to expand the separatist self-proclaimed republic.
But the Ukrainian army said on Saturday that its forces had prevented a nightly advance towards the smaller towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also claimed that Russian attacks near Kramatorsk, 120 kilometers north of the city of Donetsk, destroyed a US-supplied multiple rocket launcher and ammunition. Ukrainian authorities did not acknowledge military losses, but said Russian rocket attacks on Kramatorsk had destroyed 20 residential buildings on Friday.
Neither claim could be independently verified.
The Ukrainian governor of the neighboring province of Luhansk, part of the battle for the Donbas region and overrun by Russian forces last month, claimed Ukrainian forces still controlled a small area.
In Telegram, Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai wrote that the defending forces were holed up in an oil refinery on the outskirts of Lysychansk, a city Moscow claimed to have taken, and also control areas near a village.
“The enemy is setting fire to the ground at the entrances to the Luhansk region because he cannot overcome these few kilometers (Ukrainian resistance),” Haidai said. “It is difficult to count how many thousands of shells this area of the free Luhansk region has endured over the past month and a half.”
Shelling reported in Nikopol
Further west, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region reported more Russian shelling of Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Yevhen Yevtushenko did not specify whether Russian troops had fired at Nikopol from the occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. He wrote on Telegram on Saturday that there were no casualties, but residential buildings, a power line and a gas pipeline were damaged.
Nikopol has endured much of the daily bombardment over the past week, and a salvo of shells killed three people and damaged 40 apartment buildings on Thursday, Yevtushenko said.
Russian and Ukrainian officials have been accusing each other for days of shelling the Zaporizhzhya plant in violation of nuclear safety rules. Russian forces have occupied the factory since the early days of the Moscow invasion, although the factory’s pre-war Ukrainian nuclear workers continue to run the factory.
Ukrainian military intelligence claimed on Saturday that Russian troops fired on the factory from a village just a few miles away, damaging a gas station and fire station. The intelligence directorate said the Russians had taken people to the power plant and mounted a Ukrainian flag on a self-propelled gun on the outskirts of Enerhodar, the city where the plant is located.
“Clearly it will be used for yet another provocation to incriminate Ukraine’s armed forces,” the directorate said without elaborating.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly claimed that Russian forces cynically used the plant as a shield while firing on communities across the river, knowing Ukrainian troops were unlikely to fire back for fear of a nuclear accident.
They said Russian shelling on Friday night killed a woman and injured two other civilians in the town of Zaporizhzhya, a straight distance about 53 kilometers from the factory. Ukraine’s southern Mykolayiv region also said a woman was killed in shelling there.
The Ukrainian military has reportedly been trying for several weeks to lay the groundwork for a counter-offensive to reclaim the Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine.
A local Ukrainian official reported on Saturday that a Ukrainian strike had damaged the last working bridge over the Dnieper River in the region and further paralyzed Russian supply lines.
“The Russians no longer have the option to fully transfer their equipment,” Serhii Khlan, a deputy for the Kherson Regional Council, wrote on Facebook. His claims could not be immediately verified.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that damage to bridges over the Dnieper means that “supply of the ground for the several thousand Russian troops on the western bank is almost certainly dependent on just two ferry crossings”.
“Even if Russia manages to make significant repairs to the… [damaged] bridges, they will remain a major vulnerability,” the ministry said.
Rocket attack damages hydroelectric power plant
On Saturday, an official at the Russian-controlled hydroelectric power plant in Kakhovka, 60 kilometers upstream from the city of Kherson, said one of the production units was out of service after a Ukrainian missile attack, warning that further attacks could endanger the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. because the water inlets use the reservoir formed by the dam of the Kakhovka plant.
Days after explosions at a Russian airbase in Crimea destroyed up to a dozen planes, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said Kiev should make retaking the Black Sea peninsula, which Moscow occupied more than eight years ago, one of its war goals.
“Russia started a war against Ukraine and the world in 2014, with its brutal seizure of Crimea. It is clear that this war must end with the liberation of Crimea,” wrote Mykhailo Podoylak, head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Saturday on Twitter. .
Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for the explosions at Saki airbase on Tuesday. Russian defense officials denied that aircraft had been damaged or that an attack had taken place, and attributed the blast to sparking ammunition at the scene.