Russian forces yesterday launched an attack on two key cities in the eastern Donetsk region and continued rocket and shell attacks on other Ukrainian cities, including one near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
The other cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka are considered prime targets of the ongoing Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. Analysts say Moscow needs to take Bakhmut if it wants to advance on the regional hubs of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
“In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. It uses ground strikes and army aviation,” Ukraine’s General Staff said.
The last Russian attack on Sloviansk took place on July 30, but Ukrainian forces are strengthening their positions around the city in anticipation of fresh fighting.
“I don’t think things will stay quiet for long. Eventually there will be an attack,” said Colonel Yurii Bereza, head of the National Guard Volunteer Regiment.
Russian shelling killed five civilians and wounded 14 others in the Donetsk region last day, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said, adding that two people were killed in Poprosny and one each in Avdiivka, Soledar and Pervomaiskiy.
The governor of the eastern Dnepropetrovsk region said three civilians were injured after Russian missiles fell on a residential area in Nikopol, a town across the Dnieper from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since Moscow’s troops seized it at the start of the war.
“After midnight, the Russian army hit the Nikopol area with Grad rockets (from the Soviet era) and the Kryvyi Rih area with barrel artillery,” Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.
Another Russian missile attack overnight damaged infrastructure in the regional capital, Zaporizhia. On Thursday, Russia fired 60 rockets at Nikopol, damaging 50 residential buildings in the city of 107,000 and leaving residents without electricity.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned last week that the situation at the Zaporizhia plant was becoming more dangerous by the day. “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated,” he said in the attachment. “What is at stake is extremely serious.”
He expressed concern about the way the facility is being operated and the danger posed by fighting in the area. Experts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia was deliberately shelling the area, “which puts Ukraine in a difficult position.”
The Ukrainian company that runs the nuclear power plant said yesterday that Russian troops were using the power plant’s basement to hide from Ukrainian shelling.
“Ukrainian personnel do not have access to these premises yet, so in case of another shelling, people have no shelter and are in danger,” said Enerhoatom, a Ukrainian state-owned company. Russian missiles were said to have damaged facilities at the facility, including a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a power line.
Local Russian-appointed officials blamed the damage on the Ukrainians.
Separately, yesterday the first of three other ships carrying thousands of tons of grain from Ukraine anchored north of Istanbul awaiting inspection.
The Panama-flagged Navi Star, carrying 33,000 tons of grain to Ireland, left Odessa on Friday.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/russia-steps-up-military-assault-on-ukraine-as-power-plant-under-threat-41894780.html Russia steps up military attack on Ukraine as power plant is under threat