Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempted advances in several cities in the eastern Donetsk region, which has become a key focus of a war that has lasted nearly six months, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen cities on the southern front, in particular the Kherson region, controlled mainly by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily retaking territory.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Military Command, said the situation is complicated, but it is under control. “The enemy does not dare to advance by land, but fires at the territories in the rear with artillery and rockets,” she said in a briefing.
Asked about Sunday’s Ukrainian shelling of the Antonivskyi Bridge in the Kherson region, he said his forces are continuing to fire on routes used by the Russians for supplies.
“During the past week, we have destroyed more than 10 warehouses. The damage we deal makes it impossible to move heavy equipment. There are recorded facts that after we inflicted defeats on the command posts, their command staff moved to the left bank (of the Dnieper),” he stated.
The nuclear plant in Zaporizhia, in southern Ukraine, has been the subject of great attention due to fears of a catastrophe due to the new bombings in recent days, which Russia and Ukraine blame each other.
“The Russians believe they can force the world to comply with their conditions by bombing the Zaporizhia nuclear plant,” tweeted Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential cabinet. “This will not happen.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russian soldiers who fire on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant or use it as a firing base will become a “special target” of the Ukrainian forces.
The Zaporizhia plant overlooks the southern bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnieper River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have come under heavy shelling from the Russian-controlled side.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which intends to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster if the fighting does not stop. Nuclear experts fear the fighting could damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Monday that Moscow will do everything it can to allow IAEA specialists to visit the plant.
Fighting in the East and South
Ukraine, where parliament on Monday extended martial law for another three months, has been saying for weeks that it is planning a counteroffensive to retake Zaporizhia and neighboring Kherson province, most of the territory captured by Russia after its February 24 invasion and which he still maintains.
In the Russian-occupied Luhansk region, on the grounds below a charred and abandoned apartment block, Lilia Ai-Talatini, 48, watched as her mother’s body was exhumed from a makeshift grave to be taken to a cemetery for proper burial.
Ai-Talatini told Reuters that it had taken her 10 days to reach her parents’ apartment, on the Russian-controlled side of the town of Rubizhne, during heavy fighting there in March.
“My mother was already dying … she had blue hands, sallow skin and dark circles under her eyes,” he said. “The next day, mom passed away.”
An official from the Lugansk People’s Republic, a state created by pro-Russian separatists, said a team had been working in Rubizhne for 10 days and exhumed 104 sets of remains.
“Clearly shrapnel wounds predominate, but there are also gunshot wounds,” said Anna Soroka, who estimated there were 500 unofficial graves in the city.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield accounts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that his country is ready to offer modern weapons to its allies. He used a speech at an arms exhibition near Moscow to brag about Russia’s advanced weapons capabilities.