Ukraine presses counteroffensive as flood evacuations proceed in south


KYIV, Ukraine — Heavy preventing continued Friday in southeast Ukraine, as Kyiv’s forces pressed on with a serious counteroffensive close to Orikhiv, within the Zaporizhzhia area, and Velyka Novosilka, a city simply over the border within the neighboring Donetsk area. However they seemed to be assembly stiff resistance from Russian models dug into closely fortified positions.

Within the 36 hours for the reason that begin of Ukraine’s counterattack, no vital beneficial properties have been reported by the nation’s political or navy management, indicating that this section of the conflict is prone to be far harder than comparable campaigns final fall, during which Kyiv exploited Russian weaknesses — together with overstretched provide strains — to reclaim territory within the Kharkiv and Kherson areas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned early Friday that “very powerful battles have been underway” in Donetsk, together with within the hotly contested metropolis of Bakhmut, which Russia seized final month. Zelensky hinted at some beneficial properties however didn’t supply particulars. “Bakhmut — effectively performed,” the president mentioned. “Step-by-step.”

Deputy Protection Minister Hanna Maliar mentioned Russian forces have been “actively on the protection” round Orikhiv, a small metropolis 60 miles northeast of Melitopol, which Russia has made the capital of occupied areas of the Zaporizhzhia area. Ukrainian forces had switched to offensive actions after months in defensive positions round Bakhmut and Velyka Novosilka, Maliar mentioned.

Maliar’s feedback have been the primary affirmation by a senior Ukrainian official that the counteroffensive was underway in Zaporizhzhia, the place Kyiv hopes its troops can advance south and break the “land bridge” connecting mainland Russia to occupied Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

Russian forces claimed to have repelled the Ukrainian advance in Zaporizhzhia. The Russian state information company Tass revealed drone footage — which The Washington Put up verified — displaying destruction of a number of Ukrainian navy automobiles in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday. These automobiles included German-made Leopard 2 tanks, in accordance with two navy analysts.

Ukrainian military begins counteroffensive to oust Russian occupiers

The long-awaited counteroffensive unfolded as Ukraine’s beleaguered emergency providers and Russian occupying authorities struggled to reply to a deepening humanitarian disaster within the southern area of Kherson, the place biblical-scale floods adopted the collapse of the Kakhovka dam on Tuesday.

Ukrainian officers have insisted that Russia destroyed the dam by setting off an explosion on the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant. Ukrainian safety providers on Friday launched a recording of a telephone dialog purportedly between two Russian navy personnel that the Ukrainians mentioned supplied proof that Russia had sabotaged the plant.

“It wasn’t them,” a voice, described by the Ukrainians as a Russian soldier, says on the recording, utilizing an expletive to discuss with the destruction of the dam. “It was our [guys].”

“[Our] sabotage group was there,” a second soldier says. “They needed to scare [people] with this dam. It didn’t go in accordance with plan. It was greater than they’d deliberate.”

The USA has not publicly issued any willpower about what occurred on the dam on Tuesday, or who — if anybody — was accountable.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has blamed Ukraine for the dam’s destruction, claiming that Kyiv carried out the assault to “deprive Crimea of water” and distract from the battlefield state of affairs. Russia has not supplied proof to again up that declare, or defined how Ukraine attacked the dam, which Russia seized initially of its invasion final 12 months.

At the least one particular person died within the floods, Ukraine’s Inside Ministry mentioned, and hundreds of individuals have been evacuated, with many extra awaiting rescue.

The loss of life toll was doubtlessly far greater in Russian-occupied areas on the east financial institution of the Dnieper River, the place some cities and villages have been fully submerged and residents complained that assist was sluggish to reach.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed chief of occupied Kherson, mentioned that at the very least eight individuals had died in flooded territories underneath Russia’s management and that 5,800 individuals had been evacuated, “of which 243 are kids, 62 individuals with restricted mobility.”

The potent U.S. arsenal for Ukraine’s counteroffensive

Russia and Ukraine blamed one another for continued shelling in Kherson that’s including to the distress of residents making an attempt to flee the devastating floods.

On Thursday, 4 individuals died and at the very least 17 have been injured in 4 separate artillery assaults by Russian forces on Kherson metropolis and its surrounding villages, in accordance with Kherson regional head Oleksandr Prokunin and Ukrainian Inside Minister Ihor Klymenko. Journalists in Ukrainian-controlled Kherson recorded two of the assaults.

It’s unclear if the flooding on the occupied east financial institution of the Dnieper will hamper or help Ukraine’s navy operations in Zaporizhzhia. Zelensky mentioned Wednesday that the navy was unaffected by the dam catastrophe. Some Russian navy positions have been worn out by the floods, however Ukraine’s capacity to maneuver forces by means of the world can be now closely restricted.

Russian forces additionally carried out two separate rocket assaults within the central Ukrainian areas of Cherkasy and Zhytomyr on Thursday night time and within the early hours of Friday, killing one particular person and injuring a complete of 11, in accordance with regional leaders.

On Friday, a drone hit a residential constructing within the metropolis of Voronezh in western Russia. Tass reported that the drone had focused an area plane plant however as an alternative fell on a residential space after it was intercepted, injuring three individuals.

A Russia-Ukraine timeline: Key moments, from attack on Kyiv to counteroffensive

Voronezh Gov. Alexander Gusev declared a state of emergency after the assault. “The Kyiv regime continues to assault civilian infrastructure services, residential buildings,” Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, mentioned throughout his briefing name. “However we proceed the combat and proceed the navy protection.”

Water will proceed to circulate over the destroyed dam from the Kakhovka reservoir at its present charge for the subsequent seven to eight days, Ihor Syrota, the director of Ukraine’s state hydroelectric firm, mentioned on nationwide tv. The state firm didn’t touch upon how the continued circulate of water will have an effect on settlements downstream.

The dam collapse may even have implications for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant, now held by Russia, which used water from the reservoir for cooling. The director of the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company, Rafael Mariano Grossi, on Thursday described the state of affairs as “precarious.” In accordance with Grossi, the plant remains to be pumping cooling water from the reservoir, but it surely was unclear when and at what degree the reservoir will stabilize.

Francesca Ebel in London contributed to this report.

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