December 3, 2022

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces began an offensive on Saturday on two major cities in the eastern Donetsk region and continued missile attacks and shelling on other Ukrainian cities, including one close to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s military and local officials said. .

The cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka are prime targets of Russia’s ongoing offensive across eastern Ukraine, with analysts saying Moscow needs to control 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, focusing its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. It is using a ground offensive and army aviation,” the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook.

The last Russian strike on Slovinsk was on July 30, but Ukrainian forces fortified their positions around the city pending fresh fighting.

“I think it won’t be quiet for long. At the end of the day, there will be assault,” Colonel Yuri Beriza, head of the National Guard Volunteer Regiment, told The Associated Press.

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

The governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region said three civilians were injured after Russian missiles hit a residential neighborhood in Nikopol, a city on the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. The nuclear plant has been under Russian control since it was captured by Russian forces early in the war.

After midnight, the Russian army bombed the Nikopol region with [Soviet-era] Grad missiles, and the Kryvyi Rih region of artillery shells ”, wrote Valentin Reznichenko on a telegram.

Another Russian missile attack during the night destroyed unspecified infrastructure in the regional capital of Zaporizhia. On Thursday, Russia fired 60 missiles at Nikopol, which damaged 50 apartment buildings in the city, which has a population of 107,000, and left residents without electricity.

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

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

He expressed 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 intentionally bombing the area, “which puts Ukraine in a difficult position”.

The Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator said on Saturday that Russian forces are using the basement of the plant to hide from Ukrainian shelling and have prevented its Ukrainian employees from going there.

“Ukrainian employees do not have access to these buildings yet, so in the event of a new bombing, people have no shelter and are in danger,” Ukrainian state company Enerhoatom said on its Telegram channel.

Enrhotome said Friday that Russian missiles damaged the plant’s facilities, including the nitrogen and oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line. Russian-appointed local officials admitted the damage, but blamed the Ukrainians.

In other developments:

  • In southern Ukraine, two civilians were seriously injured Saturday after Russian forces fired missiles at the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv before dawn, according to regional authorities. This came in the wake of the Friday noon attack on Mykolaiv, which killed one person and wounded 21 others.
  • The deputy mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Nova Kakhovka was in critical condition in the Kherson region, south of Mykolaiv, after an assassination attempt, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti said, citing the deputy mayor of the Kherson region. under Russian control.
  • __ The Turkish Defense Ministry said the first of three other ships carrying thousands of tons of corn from Ukraine docked north of Istanbul on Saturday pending inspection. The Panama-flagged ship, the Navy Star, carrying 33,000 tons of grain, left Odessa for Ireland on Friday. It is followed by Turkish-flagged Polarnet and Maltese-flagged Rojen, carrying more than 25,000 tons of corn between them from Chornomorsk. The Joint Inspection Center for the Prevention of Grain was created in Ukraine due to the war on the world. On Friday, the center inspected the first ship heading north as it headed to Chornomorsk.
  • In the north, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and the surrounding area, came under Russian missile fire again during the night, according to the region’s governor, Oleh Sinihopov. An 18-year-old in Chuhaiv, a town near Kharkiv, was taken to hospital on Saturday after picking up an unexploded ordnance. Both Chuhuiv and Kharkiv are near the Russian border and have been under constant Russian bombardment in recent weeks.
  • The neighboring Sumy region, also bordering Russia, has seen near-constant shelling and missile strikes. Its governor said, on Saturday, that the area was bombed more than 60 times from Russian territory during the previous day, and an injured civilian was taken to hospital.
  • On the ammunition front, Russia has started using Iranian combat drones in the war, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Aristovich said on YouTube, adding that Tehran has transferred 46 drones to the Russian army.

Joanna Kozlowska contributed from London

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