Barely six months after the start of their invasion, Russian troops in eastern Ukraine are attacking the city of Bakhmut with all their might - a cornerstone of the defense line around the last metropolitan area controlled by the Ukrainians there. This was announced by the General Staff in Kyiv in its new situation report on Saturday.
This puts the Ukrainian army under increasing pressure in the eastern region of Donetsk - according to its own statements, it initially fended off all Russian advances on Saturday. Russian offensives in the direction of the cities of Sloviansk, Bakhmut and Avdiivka had been repelled, the Ukrainian general staff said in its evening report. Fierce fighting has been raging around Bakhmut in particular for days. The day before, the pro-Russian rebels had reported that fighting was already taking place within the city limits. The information provided by both sides cannot be checked independently.
Should Bakhmut and other small towns fall, the way for the Russian troops in the direction of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk would be largely free. Since conquering the neighboring region of Luhansk, the Russians have concentrated their attacks in eastern Ukraine on Donetsk, where they have so far conquered around 60 percent of the territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his armed forces for the successful counterattacks - and emphasized the role of Western weapons. In the past week, the Ukrainian army has achieved "strong results" in the destruction of Russian war logistics, Zelenskyy said in his video address on Sunday night. "Any attack on the enemy's ammunition depots, on their command posts and on accumulations of Russian technology saves the lives of all of us, the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians."
IAEA chief demands access to Ukrainian nuclear plant under fire
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is again pushing for access to the Russian-held facility after the shelling of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Friday's attack "underscores the very real risk of a nuclear catastrophe that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement on Saturday. He stated that damage had occurred on the site, but that the reactors were intact and no radioactivity had escaped.
A site visit by an IAEA team would help stabilize nuclear safety on site and provide independent information on the state of the nuclear plant. Grossi called on Ukraine and Russia to finally make such an IAEA mission possible together.
While Moscow blamed Ukrainian troops for the shelling, Kyiv said the Russians had shelled the area themselves. The information cannot be verified independently.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Saturday evening that the critical infrastructure of the power plant in the city of Enerhodar was not damaged. As a result of the attacks, more than 10,000 residents in the region are now without water and electricity.
According to Kyiv, the Russians are on the defensive in the south
In the south of the country, however, the initiative is passed to the Ukrainians. According to the situation report from Kyiv, the Russian troops there are concentrating on defending their positions. The Southern Command of the Ukrainian military previously reported that it had destroyed at least six Russian arms and ammunition depots and two command posts in the Kherson region. There is no independent confirmation for this information either.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said air and artillery strikes killed nearly 600 Ukrainian soldiers. The 46th Ukrainian air assault brigade was hit near the village of Bilohirka in the Cherson region. According to him, more than 400 "nationalists" were killed. In addition, more than 70 other soldiers were killed and 150 injured by rocket attacks on the front there. More than 80 "foreign mercenaries" died in rocket attacks in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Konashenkov also reported on the destruction of several artillery systems in Ukraine. A battery of "Olcha" and Himars rocket launchers was destroyed. Himars are long-range, accurate US multiple rocket launchers.
London: Ukraine war before a new phase
According to British information, the war is currently entering a new phase. The Ministry of Defense in London expects that the heaviest fighting will shift to a front line almost 350 kilometers long, which extends southwest near Zaporizhia to Cherson and thus runs parallel to the Dnipro River.
In anticipation of Ukraine's counteroffensive or in preparation for a possible attack, Russian forces were almost certainly massing in southern Ukraine, the British wrote. Long Russian military convoys continued to move south-west away from Ukraine's Donbass region.