Ukraine conflict: Russia steps up efforts in Donbass amid speculation of ‘major counter-offensive’


Russian forces fired missiles and artillery at Ukrainian-held areas across the river from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, authorities said.

It comes as concerns persist over the safety of the Russian-controlled station after it was temporarily taken offline.

Grad missiles and artillery shells hit the towns of Nikopol and Marhanets, each about 10 km and across the Dnieper from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk.

Russian forces fired missiles and artillery at Ukrainian-held areas across the river from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, authorities said.

Russian forces occupied the nuclear complex at the start of the war in Ukraine, while Ukrainian workers operated it.

Each side has repeatedly accused the other of bombing the complex, raising fears that the fighting could trigger a disaster.

The Defense Ministry, in an intelligence update, said the decision may be to try to quell a rumor of a counterattack by Ukrainian forces.

An update from the MoD read: “Over the past five days, there has probably been an increase in the intensity of Russian assaults along the Donetsk sector of the Donbass. North of the city of Donetsk, heavy fighting took place near the towns of Siversk and Bakhmut.

“The pro-Russian separatist militias likely advanced towards the center of the village of Pisky, near Donetsk airport. Overall, however, Russian forces achieved little territorial gains.

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“There is a realistic possibility that Russia has intensified its efforts in Donbass to try to attract or fix additional Ukrainian units, amid speculation that Ukraine is planning a major counter-offensive.”

On Friday, authorities began distributing iodine tablets to residents who live near the station in the event of a radioactive leak.

The move came a day after the station was temporarily taken offline due to what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line.

Recent satellite images from Planet Labs show fires burning around the complex over the past few days.

The UN atomic energy agency tried to send a team to inspect and help secure the station.

Officials said preparations for the visit were underway, but it was still unclear when it might take place.

Ukraine claimed Russia was using the power plant as a shield by stockpiling weapons there and launching attacks around it.

Moscow, on the other hand, accuses Ukraine of firing recklessly at the compound.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, one person was killed and another injured in Russian attacks in the Mykolaiv region, local government officials said.

The city of Mykolaiv is an important Black Sea port and shipbuilding center.

The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Saturday that two people were killed when the Russians fired on the town of Bakhmut, a major target for Russian and separatist forces seeking to take control of parts of the region that they do not already have. hold.

The war in Ukraine has exceeded six months of fighting with heavy casualties on either side as Putin’s forces continue the illegal invasion.


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