The Ukrainian counter-offensive to recapture the first major city given to Russia, Kherson, continues as its forces attacked command posts and Moscow forces responded with a ground attack to disrupt the operation.
The representative of the southern command of Ukraine, Natalia Gumenyuk, said that Ukrainian troops destroyed ammunition depots and pontoon bridges to prevent the movement of Russian reserves.
According to local media reports, shooting was heard near the center of Kherson.
“Our progress is convincing, and we will soon be able to reveal more information,” Gumenyuk said.
Moscow has denied reports of successes by the Ukrainian army and said its troops had routed Kyiv’s forces.
The Ukrainian army publishes little news about the progress of the counter-offensive, which it launched earlier in the week in the Kherson region.
It was reported that two links, on which the Russians crossed the river, were damaged. The bridges are important for the resupply of Russian troops west of the Dnieper, on which Kherson lies.
Both sides have claimed battlefield successes in the early days of what the Ukrainians have called a potential turning point in the war.
Zero gas flows
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s General Staff on Friday said Russian troops had shelled dozens of cities, including Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second largest city – in the north and Donetsk Oblast in the east.
Since Russia’s February invasion, more than seven million people have fled Ukraine, thousands have been killed and cities have been reduced to rubble in what Kyiv and the West are calling Russia’s “unprovoked war of aggression.”
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to stop NATO expansion in neighboring countries, rid Ukraine of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities.
The events on Saturday came as Moscow and Kyiv exchanged accusations about the actions at the Russian-occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, where United Nations inspectors arrived on Thursday on a mission to help prevent a radiation catastrophe as the facility has come under repeated attacks.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation that his country could play the role of an intermediary for the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
Volodymyr Rogov, a pro-Russian official in the Zaporizhia region, said Ukrainian forces fired several times at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the main power line to the plant was cut off, forcing it to use backup power sources, as happened last week.
Meanwhile, Russian energy giant Gazprom has delayed resuming gas supplies, exacerbating Europe’s problems with fuel supplies for the winter as the cost of living is already rising.
Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea for supplies to Germany and other countries, was supposed to resume operation after a three-day maintenance shutdown on Saturday, but a few hours later the pipeline operator reported no flows.
Moscow has blamed sanctions imposed by the West following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine of hindering Nord Stream 1’s routine operations and maintenance.
“The Most Serious Situation”
The UN inspection team led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, despite heavy shelling, reached the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
“This is not the first time the IAEA team has been in a combat situation,” said Tariq Rauf, the organization’s former verification and security chief, noting that the IAEA sent inspectors to Iraq in 2003 and the former Soviet republic. Georgia, during the fighting.
“But this situation in Zaporozhye, I think this is the most serious situation that the IAEA has sent people, so this is unprecedented.”
Grossi, returning to Ukrainian-controlled territory, stated that the plant’s physical integrity had been violated several times. The report is expected early next week and two IAEA experts are staying at the station for a longer period.
“There were moments when the fire was obvious – heavy machine guns, artillery, mortars two or three times were really very disturbing, I would say, for all of us,” Grossi said of his group’s journey through the active war zone to reach the goal. . factory.
“Demilitarize the station”
The situation is further complicated by the Russian occupation of the nuclear power plant. The site is located on the southern bank of a huge reservoir on the Dnieper River, 10 km by water from the Ukrainian positions.
Each side accused the other of shelling near the facility, which is still maintained by Ukrainian personnel and supplies more than one-fifth of Ukraine’s peacetime electricity. Kyiv also accuses Russia of using it to cover its weapons, which Moscow denies. Russia has so far resisted international calls to withdraw troops from the plant and demilitarize the area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the IAEA team to go beyond inspections and reporting.
“Unfortunately, we did not hear the main thing from the IAEA – a call to Russia to demilitarize the station,” Zelensky said in a video message.
A commando-style raid?
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Ukraine continues to use the weapons of its Western allies to shell the plant. He dismissed claims from Kyiv and the West that Russia had placed heavy weapons at the plant.
Several settlements near the plant were shelled by Russian troops on Thursday, head of the regional council Nikolai Lukashuk said.
Rogov, a pro-Russian official, said Ukrainian forces shelled Energodar, a Russian-held town near the power plant. He repeated accusations that Ukraine staged a raid on the facility in the style of a sabotage landing with a boat on the river. The Ukrainian authorities called it a fabrication.