Pro-Russian separatists said Friday they were making a “fortress” of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, whose residents Russia is evacuating in the face of advancing security forces. Kyiv.
The deputy official in charge of the Russian occupation in Kherson, Kirill Stremoussov, on Friday accused Ukrainian forces of killing four people by shelling the Antonovskiy Bridge, spanning the Dnieper, used for evacuations in the face of advancing Ukrainian forces.
“The city of Kherson, like a fortress, is preparing its defense,” he added on Telegram.
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Russian television broadcast pictures of a damaged car and a traffic jam of vehicles waiting to cross the river.
The Ukrainian army quickly denied having targeted civilians: “We are not hitting critical infrastructure, we are not hitting peaceful settlements and the local population,” said a spokeswoman, Natalia Goumenyuk.
Pro-Russian forces have urged civilians to move to the left bank of the Dnieper as Ukrainian forces conduct a counter-offensive in the Kherson region, recently annexed by Moscow.
The pro-Russian administration plans to evacuate “50,000 to 60,000” people in a few days.
< p>The secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiï Danilov, on Wednesday castigated “the preparation of the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population” to Russia, “in order to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territories”.
In Brussels, the Baltic countries called on Friday for the establishment of a special tribunal to judge Russia's “crimes of aggression” in Ukraine, thus taking up a request from Kyiv, on the second day of a summit of the Twenty-Seven.
After retreating sharply in northeastern Ukraine in recent weeks, Moscow's forces are also under pressure in the south around Kherson, the first major city to fall into their hands in March, shortly after the start of their offensive.
In this area, Russian forces “mined the dam and the units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station”, one of the largest infrastructures of its kind in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Thursday. “Russia is consciously preparing the ground for a large-scale disaster”, because “if the dam bursts, more than 80 localities, including Kherson, will find themselves in the zone of rapid flooding”.
“It could destroy the water supply of a large part of southern Ukraine”, and affect the cooling of the reactors of the nuclear power plant – already in danger, because recurring target of bombardments – of Zaporizhia, the largest of Europe, which draws its water from this artificial lake of 18 million cubic meters, added Mr. Zelensky.
General Sergei Surovikin, recently appointed head of Russian operations in Ukraine, admitted on Tuesday that the situation there was “tense” for his army and warned that he would not be afraid to make a “very difficult decision”.
Threat to Belarus
Struck in its energy infrastructure for ten days as winter approaches, confronted with Russian forces in the south and east, Ukraine was also alarmed on Thursday by the possible opening of a new front in north, from Belarus.
“The threat of a resumption of the offensive on the northern front by the Russian armed forces is growing,” said to the press Oleksiï Gromov, an official of the Ukrainian general staff.
According to him, “this time, the offensive could be west of the Belarusian border to cut off the main supply routes for foreign weapons and military equipment” which arrive in particular via Poland.
M . Zelensky underlined in this context before the European Council that the Ukrainian proposal to deploy an international monitoring mission on the border between Ukraine and Belarus “is becoming more relevant every day”.
In the United States, the White House claimed that Iran had sent soldiers to Crimea to help the Russian army.
Iran was already sanctioned Thursday by the West for deliveries of suicide drones to Russia, which it continues to deny. Moscow also called the information “outlandish assumptions”.
On Friday, Tehran advised its nationals in Ukraine to leave “to protect their lives and safety”, “in view of the intensification of military clashes and increased insecurity,” according to Iran's Tasnim news agency.
At the White House, “we believe that Iranian military personnel have been on the ground in Crimea and have assisted Russia in these operations,” U.S. presidential National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told AFP. about the kamikaze drone attacks against cities and infrastructure in Ukraine.
After these waves of Russian strikes on its infrastructure, particularly energy, Ukraine on Thursday limited the electricity consumption of its population and its businesses .
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko has urged businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants to “save as much as possible” on lights and illuminated advertising.
In several other regions, local authorities have called on residents to reduce their consumption, as Russia destroyed 30% of Ukrainian power plants in a week, according to Mr. Zelensky.
On the ground, Ukrainian authorities reported Russian bombings on Friday morning on the cities of Kharkiv (north-east) and Zaporizhia (south-east).
“The enemy launched a rocket attack on the city of Kharkiv (in particular) by touching an industrial infrastructure”, according to the regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov, without giving more details. He also reported six people injured in a previous attack.
Regarding Zaporizhia, Governor Oleksandre Starouk spoke on Telegram of “rocket strikes on the city”, without mentioning any casualties or the places affected.< /p>
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128