Ukraine says its troops advance towards Izium as fighting continues in Donbass

  • Heavy Russian shelling reported along the Donbass front
  • New Ukrainian attacks damage key bridge in Kherson
  • Both sides blame the other for bombing the nuclear plant

Kyiv, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Ukraine reported heavy Russian shelling on the frontline on Tuesday as both sides blamed each other for the weekend attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex that sparked international concern about a possible atomic disaster.

Heavy fighting was reported in frontline towns near the eastern city of Donetsk, where Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were launching waves of attacks as they seek to take control of the industrialized Donbas region.

“The situation in the region is tense: shelling is constant along the entire front line… The enemy is also using air strikes a lot,” Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television.

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“The enemy is not succeeding. The Donetsk region is holding.”

Around Kharkiv in the northeast, Ukrainian troops captured the town of Dovhenke from the Russian occupiers and were advancing towards Izium, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.

“The situation is very interesting. Ukraine’s forces are moving very successfully. Russia’s attempts to regain lost ground were unsuccessful. Ukraine may end up encircling them,” he said.

In the southeast, the key Antonovskyi Bridge over the Dnipro River in the Kherson region came under attack again by Ukrainian forces trying to disrupt Russian supply lines.

Yuri Sobolevsky, deputy head of the Kherson regional council ousted by the Russian occupation forces, said on Telegram that the bridge was badly damaged after “overnight actions”.

Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

US Undersecretary for Defense Policy Colin Kahl said Monday that Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, dead or wounded, since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Russia calls the war a “special military operation.”

NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday called any attack on a nuclear plant “suicidal” and demanded that UN nuclear inspectors have access to Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power complex of its kind in Europe.

Invading Russian forces seized the region of southern Ukraine containing Zaporizhzhia in March, when the site was attacked without damaging its reactors. The area, including the city of Kherson, is now the target of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. read more

Ukraine called for the area around the complex to be demilitarized and for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, to be allowed entry. Russia said it was also in favor of a visit by the IAEA, which it accused Ukraine of blocking. read more

Both sides blamed the other for the weekend attacks around the compound, which is still run by Ukrainian technicians. Ukraine said three radiation sensors were damaged and two workers were injured by shrapnel.

Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom, said 500 Russian soldiers and 50 pieces of heavy machinery, including tanks, trucks and armored personnel carriers, were at the scene. read more

He called on peacekeepers to manage the plant and warned of the risk of projectiles hitting the plant’s six containers of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Ukrainian strikes damaged power lines serving the plant and forced it to cut output at two of its six reactors to “avoid outages.” read more

Reuters was unable to independently verify either party’s account.

In an evening video shared online, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for new Western sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry “for creating the threat of a nuclear disaster.”

Dr. Mark Wenman, a nuclear expert at Imperial College London, downplayed the risk of a major incident, saying Zaporizhzhia’s reactors were relatively robust and spent fuel well protected.

YOU SAID

Stepping up its fiscal aid and military spending in Ukraine, Washington has announced it will send $4.5 billion in budget support and $1 billion in weapons, including long-range rocket munitions and armored medical transport vehicles.

Overall, the United States has contributed more than $18 billion to Ukraine this year. read more

While pouring weapons and money into Ukraine, the United States was also imposing financial sanctions against the Kremlin and the wealthy elites who support President Vladimir Putin.

A US judge authorized prosecutors to seize a $90 million Airbus (AIR.PA) plane owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch, prosecutors said Monday. read more

Skoch, a member of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, was initially sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2018 for alleged links to Russian organized criminal groups. He was hit with more sanctions in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The plane is now in Kazakhstan, court documents show. The Kazakhstan embassy in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine to get rid of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unprovoked war of aggression.

The conflict has displaced millions, killed thousands of civilians and left cities, towns and villages in ruins.

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Reuters bureau reports; Written by Stephen Coates; Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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