Kyiv: Russian attacks were reported across large areas of Ukraine on Thursday, with heavy shelling in numerous regions damaging infrastructure, including electricity supplies to Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Ukrainian officials said.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has again been disconnected from the power grid after Russian shelling damaged the remaining high voltage lines, leaving it with just diesel generators, Ukraine nuclear firm Energoatom said.
The plant, in Russian hands but operated by Ukrainian workers, has 15 days’ worth of fuel to run the generators, Energoatom said.
Russian strikes were also reported in Kriviy Rih, in central Ukraine, and in Sumy and Kharkiv, in the northeast. There was heavy fighting in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
“The enemy is trying to keep the temporarily captured territories, concentrating its efforts on restraining the actions of the Defence Forces in certain areas,” Ukraine’s general staff said on Thursday.
Russia has said it has targeted infrastructure as part of what it calls its “special military operation” to degrade the Ukrainian military and remove what it says is a potential threat against Russia’s security.
As a result, Ukrainian civilians have endured power cuts and reduced water supplies in recent weeks. Russia denies targeting civilians, though the conflict has killed thousands, displaced millions and left some Ukrainian cities in ruins.
Foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich democracies will discuss how best to coordinate further support for Ukraine when they meet on Thursday in Germany.
British envoy summoned
On Thursday morning, the British ambassador arrived at the Russian foreign ministry, a Reuters journalist at the scene reported, after she was summoned to discuss Moscow’s claims that Britain was involved in a Ukrainian drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
Russia temporarily suspended participation in a UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative on Saturday after what it said was a major drone attack on vessels in the Bay of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia’s defence ministry said the attack was carried out under the guidance and leadership of British navy specialists, an assertion Britain has dismissed as false.
President Vladimir Putin has also accused Britain of being behind attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines in September that have put the multi-billion dollar gas link between Russia and Europe out of use, possibly permanently.
On Wednesday, Russia resumed participation in the deal freeing up grain exports from Ukraine, after Turkey and the United Nations helped keep Ukrainian grain flowing for several days without a Russian role in inspections.
Russia’s defence ministry justified the resumption by saying it had received guarantees from Ukraine that it would not use the Black Sea grain corridor for military operations against Russia.
Seven ships carrying agricultural products left Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Thursday, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said. The vessels were loaded with 290,000 tonnes of food products and were headed towards European and Asian countries, it said in a statement without elaborating.
The grain deal, originally reached three months ago, had helped alleviate a global food crisis by lifting a de facto Russian blockade on Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain suppliers. The prospect of it collapsing this week revived fears of a worsening food crisis and rising prices.
The prices of wheat, soybeans, corn and rapeseed fell sharply on global markets after Russia’s announcement.
In the south, a Ukrainian counteroffensive has left Russian forces fighting to hold their ground around the city of Kherson, where Russian-installed authorities are urging residents to evacuate, the Ukrainian military said.
Kherson was the first city to fall to Russian forces, after they launched an attack on Feb. 24.
Residents who had collaborated with occupying forces were leaving and some departing medical staff had taken equipment from hospitals, the Ukraine military said.
Residents of the town of Nova Zburivka had been given three days to leave and were told that evacuation would be obligatory from Nov. 5.
Russian authorities have repeatedly said Ukraine could be preparing to attack the massive Kakhovka dam, upriver on the Dnipro, and flood the region. Kyiv denies that.
“Obviously, we are afraid of this. That is why we are leaving,” resident Pavel Ryazskiy, who was evacuated to Crimea, said of the possibility the dam could be destroyed.
In Washington on Wednesday the United States said it had information that indicated North Korea was covertly supplying Russia with a “significant” number of artillery shells for the war.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby did not provide evidence but he told a briefing that North Korea was attempting to obscure the shipments by funnelling them through the Middle East and North Africa.