Powerful explosions rocked the city of Nikolaev in southern Ukraine, and a city located near the country’s largest nuclear power plant came under fire amid Russian attacks in several regions, according to the Office of the President of Ukraine.
At least four civilians have been killed and 10 injured in the last 24 hours, with nine regions of Ukraine under fire, the agency said in a daily update.
Two districts of Nikolaev were subjected to shelling, which in recent weeks have been subjected to frequent shelling.
Russian forces reportedly fired 60 rockets at Nikopol in the central part of the Dnepropetrovsk region.
According to Ukrainian authorities, 50 residential buildings were damaged in the city with a population of more than 100,000, several shells hit power lines, leaving residents of the city without electricity.
Nikopol is located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which was captured by Russian troops at the beginning of the war.
Experts from the American Institute for the Study of War believe that Russia is deliberately bombarding the area, “putting Ukraine in a difficult position.”
“Either Ukraine will return fire, risking international condemnation and a nuclear incident (which is unlikely for Ukrainian forces), or Ukrainian forces will allow Russian forces to continue shelling Ukrainian positions from an effective ‘safe zone’,” the institute’s latest report says.
Earlier this week, the head of the UN agency for nuclear oversight expressed concern about the situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
In northern Ukraine, the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has come under artillery fire from the Russian side, the President’s Office said.
Several industrial facilities were damaged in the city and were often targeted.
In the neighboring town of Chuguev, a rocket hit a five-story residential building.
In the east of the Donetsk region, where hostilities have been concentrated in recent weeks, residential buildings in all major cities have been shelled, and a school in the village of Ocheretino has been destroyed.
The region is experiencing difficulties with gas supplies, many of them were left without electricity and water. Residents are being evacuated.
The Russian-backed separatist authorities in Donetsk said two people were killed and three injured in Ukrainian shelling of the central city on Thursday.
Russian troops have already captured the neighboring Lugansk region. Its Ukrainian governor, Sergei Gaidai, said that local residents were being mobilized to fight the Kyiv troops and that “even irreplaceable miners are being taken.”
The Ukrainian authorities reported another kidnapping of the mayor, who allegedly refused to cooperate with the Russians in the southern Kherson region, which is also almost completely occupied.
The reported kidnapping of Serhiy Lyakhno, the mayor of the village of Gornostaevka, came as Russia massed additional troops in the area in anticipation of a Kyiv counteroffensive and ahead of a planned referendum on joining the region to Russia.