Ukrainian officials said Russian forces have launched attacks on two major cities in the eastern Donetsk region and are continuing rocket and shelling attacks on other Ukrainian cities, including one close to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Bakhmut and other cities of Avdievka were considered major targets of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine east, with analysts saying Moscow needs to take Bakhmut if it is to advance to the regional centers of Slovak and Kramatorsk.
“In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdivka directions. It uses ground attack and military aviation, ”the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook.
Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on the last day killed five civilians and wounded 14 others, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrilenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday, adding that two were killed in Poprosny, and one each in Avdivka, Soledar and Pervomysky. In.
The governor of the East Dnipropetrovsk region said three civilians were injured after a Russian rocket fell on a residential neighborhood in Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Station. The nuclear plant has been under Russian control since it was confiscated by Moscow troops early in the war.
“After midnight, Russian forces attacked the Nikopol area with (Soviet-era) Grad rockets and the Krivy Rih area from barrel artillery,” Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian officials also said a Russian missile attack damaged unspecified infrastructure in the regional capital Zaporizhzhya overnight. On Thursday, Russia fired 60 rockets at Nikopol, damaging 50 residential buildings in the city of 107,000 and leaving residents without electricity.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, warned this week that the situation at the Zaporizhzhya plant was getting more dangerous by the day.
“Every principle of nuclear security has been violated”, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely serious and dangerous.”
He expressed concern over the way the plant was operated and the danger posed by the ongoing fighting around it. Experts from the US-based Institute for the Study of War said they believed Russia was deliberately shelling the region, “putting Ukraine in a difficult position”.
The Ukrainian company that operates the nuclear power station said on Saturday that Russian troops were using the basement of the plant to hide from Ukrainian shelling and prevented its Ukrainian workers from going there.
“Ukrainian personnel do not yet have access to these complexes, so in the event of new shelling, people have no shelter and are in danger,” Enerhotom, a Ukrainian state enterprise, said on its Telegram channel.
Enerhoatom said Friday that Russian rockets damaged the plant’s facilities, including a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line. Local Russian-appointed officials acknowledged the damage, but blamed it on alleged Ukrainian shelling.
In the south of Ukraine, two civilians were seriously injured after Russian forces fired rockets at the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv on Saturday, according to regional officials. This was followed by an attack on Mykolaiv on Friday afternoon, killing one person and injuring 21 others.
In the north, Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv and its surrounding region were also hit by Russian rockets overnight, according to regional governor Oleh Sinihubov. An 18-year-old man was taken to hospital on Saturday in the town of Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, after he picked up an unexplained shell.
Both Chuhuiv and Kharkiv have faced continued Russian shelling in recent weeks due to their proximity to the Russian border.
The neighboring Sumi region, which also shares a border with Russia, has also seen near-constant shelling and missile attacks. Its regional governor said on Saturday that the province had been hit more than 60 times by Russian territory the previous day, and one wounded civilian was hospitalized.
On the ammunition front, Russia has begun using Iranian combat drones in combat, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksey Erestovich said in a YouTube address, adding that Tehran had transferred 46 drones to the Russian military.