September 28, 2022

Russian forces launched an offensive Saturday on two key towns in the eastern Donetsk region and continued their rocket and shelling attacks on other Ukrainian cities, including one near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s military and local officials said.

Both the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka are seen as key targets in Russia’s ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine, with analysts saying Moscow must take Bakhmut if it is to advance on the regional hubs of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

“In the direction of Donetsk, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts in the directions of Bakhmut and Avdiivka. It is using ground attack and military aviation,” the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook.

The last Russian strike on Sloviansk was on July 30, but Ukrainian forces are fortifying their positions around the city in anticipation of further fighting.

“I think it won’t be calm for long. Eventually, there will be an attack,” Colonel Yuriy Bereza, head of the volunteer national guard regiment, told The Associated Press.

Russian shelling killed five civilians and wounded 14 others in the Donetsk region in the last day, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko wrote on Telegram on Saturday, saying two people were killed in Poprosny and one each in Avdiivka, Soledar and Pervomaiskiy.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Local residents survey the damage after an early morning strike by Russian forces in Kostiantynivka, eastern Ukraine. August 6, 2022.


The governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region said three civilians were injured when Russian rockets fell on a residential neighborhood in Nikopoli, a city across the Dnieper River. from Zaporizhzhia NPP. The nuclear plant has been under Russian control since Moscow’s troops seized it early in the war.

“After midnight, the Russian army hit the Nikopol region with (Soviet-era) Grad rockets and the Kryvyi Rih region with barrel artillery,” Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.

Enerhoatom, a Ukrainian state-owned enterprise, said on Friday that Russian missiles destroyed facilities at the plant, including a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line. Local Russian-appointed officials acknowledged the damage but blamed the Ukrainians.

Another Russian missile attack overnight destroyed unspecified infrastructure in the regional capital of Zaporizhia. On Thursday, Russia fired 60 rockets into Nikopoli, damaging 50 residential buildings in the city of 107,000 and leaving residents without power.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned this week that the situation was becoming more dangerous by the day at the Zaporizhia plant.

“Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious.”

He expressed his concern about the way the factory was operating and the danger posed by the fighting around it. Experts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia was bombing the region deliberately, “putting Ukraine in a difficult position”.

The Ukrainian company that operates the nuclear plant said on Saturday that Russian troops are using the plant’s basement to hide from Ukrainian shelling and have barred its Ukrainian staff from going there.

“Ukrainian personnel still do not have access to these facilities, so in case of new shelling, people have no shelter and are at risk,” Enerhoatom said on its Telegram channel.

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