heavy Russian shelling in the east; Ukraine strikes important bridge

American artist Trek Thunder Kelly paints sunflowers on cars destroyed by Russian attacks in Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, August 12, 2022.  Kelly came to Ukraine as a volunteer to paint the cars, culture and school basements for the destroyed Palace of Culture project "flowers for hope" The purpose of which is to provide a distraction in a war-ravaged environment and to raise funds for humanitarian aid.  (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

American artist Trek Thunder Kelly paints sunflowers on cars destroyed by Russian attacks in Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, August 12, 2022. Kelly came to Ukraine as a volunteer to paint cars, culture and school basements for the destroyed Palace of Hope project “Flowers for Hope” which aims to provide a distraction in a war-ravaged environment and raise funds for humanitarian aid. . (AP Photo / Evgeny Maloletka)

AP

Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that Russian forces claimed advantage and surrounded residential areas across Ukraine overnight, as Ukrainian forces retaliated to try to retake occupied southern territory, The attack struck the last working bridge over a river in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday.

According to the mayor, a Russian rocket attack on the city of Kramatorsk on Friday night killed three people and injured 13 others. In the war-torn east of the country, the Ukrainian army is headquartered in Kramatorsk.

The attack came less than a day after 11 other rockets were fired at the city, one of two main Ukrainian-held rockets in Donetsk province, the focus of an ongoing Russian offensive to capture the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Saturday that its forces have captured a village on the outskirts of the provincial capital Donetsk city, which has been controlled by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

Russian forces and Kremlin-backed rebels are trying to capture Ukrainian-held areas north and west of the city of Donetsk in a bid to expand the separatists’ self-declared republic. But Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that its forces had halted overnight progress toward the small towns of Avdeevka and Bakhmut.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also claimed that Russian strikes near Kramatorsk, 120 kilometers (75 mi) north of the city of Donetsk, destroyed several US-supplied rocket launchers and ammunition. Ukrainian officials did not acknowledge any military losses, but said Russian missile strikes on Kramatorsk on Friday destroyed 20 residential buildings.

None of the claims could be independently verified.

The Ukrainian governor of neighboring Luhansk province, part of the Donbass region that was occupied by Russian forces last month, claimed that Ukrainian troops still occupied a small area in the province. Writing on Telegram, Luhansk Gov. Serhi Haidai said the rescue troops were hiding inside an oil refinery on the shores of Lisichansk, a city that Moscow had occupied, and also controlled areas near a village.

“The enemy is burning the ground at the entrances to the Luhansk region because it cannot cross these few kilometers (with Ukrainian resistance),” Haidai said. “It is difficult to count how many thousands of shells this area of ​​the liberated Luhansk region suffered in the past month and a half. ”

Further west, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region reported more Russian shelling of the city of Nikopol, which is located across the Dnieper River from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Governor Yeven Yevtushenko did not specify whether Russian troops fired at Nikopol from the occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Writing on Telegram, he said on Saturday that there were no casualties but residential buildings, a power line and a gas pipeline were damaged.

Nikopol has been bombed daily for most of the past week, and on Thursday three people were killed and 40 apartment buildings were damaged in the shelling, he said.

Russian and Ukrainian officials have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhya plant in violation of nuclear safety regulations. Russian troops have occupied the plant since the early days of the invasion of Moscow, although the facility’s Ukrainian nuclear workers continue to operate it.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency alleged on Saturday that Russian troops were shelling the plant from a village a few kilometers away, damaging a plant’s pumping station and a fire station. The Intelligence Directorate said the Russians had barricaded people into the power plant and planted a Ukrainian flag on a gun on the outskirts of Enerhodar, where the plant is located.

“Obviously, this will be used for another provocation to accuse the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the directorate elaborated.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly alleged that Russian forces were using the plant as a shield when firing on Ukrainian communities across the river, knowing that Ukrainian forces would fire back for fear of triggering a nuclear accident. There was no chance of being killed.

A woman was killed and two other civilians were injured in the city of Zaporizhzhya in Russian shelling Friday night, he said. Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region also said a woman was killed in the shelling.

For several weeks, the Ukrainian military has tried to lay the groundwork for a retaliatory strike to recapture the Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine. A Ukrainian local official said on Saturday that a Ukrainian attack had damaged the last working bridge over the Dnieper River in the region, further crippling Russian supply lines.

“The Russians now have no ability to fully turn on their equipment,” wrote Serhi Khalan, deputy of the Kherson Regional Council, on Facebook.

The British Defense Ministry said on Saturday that damage to the Dnieper bridges meant that “land supplies for several thousand Russian troops on the west coast are almost certainly dependent on just two pontoon ferry crossing points.”

“Even if Russia manages to make significant repairs to the (damaged) bridges, they will remain a significant vulnerability,” the British said.

After more than a dozen planes were destroyed at a Russian airport in Crimea, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said Kyiv should take back the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow occupied in 2014 as one of its war targets. was.

“Russia launched a war against Ukraine and the world in 2014, with its open annexation of Crimea. It is clear that this war must end with the liberation of Crimea,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, the head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “And with legal punishment of the initiators of the ‘special military operation'” – the Kremlin’s term for the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities have not claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s blasts at Saki airport in Crimea. Russian defense officials have denied that any aircraft were damaged – or that there was even an attack – attributing the explosions to the detonation at the site.

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