The Ukrainian military repelled attempted Russian advances into eastern Ukraine and pounded critical Russian logistics centers overnight Saturday-Saturday as Russia continued to shell towns along the line of 400 mile front.
Ukraine has made small but steady gains in the southern region of Kherson, a southern port city where thousands of Russian troops are now largely isolated after Ukrainian strikes on key supply routes.
A senior US Department of Defense official acknowledged the advances at a press conference on Friday and said there was mounting evidence that heavy Russian casualties had left some units unprepared for combat.
The official described Russia’s recent efforts as a failure both on the battlefield and at home, where Moscow’s rhetoric about its ambitions in Ukraine has become more explosive in recent days. Senior Kremlin officials have spoken of regime change in Kyiv, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev posted a map on his Telegram channel showing a Ukraine engulfed by Russia and its neighbors.
Although Russian forces are trying to penetrate deeper into the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, they have been unable to break through Ukrainian defenses, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.
“Throughout July, the occupiers attempted to storm the Donetsk region,” Serhii Haidai, the head of the military administration of neighboring Luhansk province, said in a statement. But unlike the Russian push in the spring and early summer, when they could use their large artillery advantage to level areas before advancing, Mr Haidai said the Ukrainian destruction of depots of Russian ammunition had “made it much more difficult for them to replenish arms stocks and maneuver.
Yet, he said, Russian forces continued “to destroy settlements, using cannons and jet guns.” At least six civilians were killed and 15 others injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Friday, local Ukrainian officials said.
On the southern front, at least one civilian in the port city of Mykolaiv died when a Russian missile hit a high-rise building overnight, according to Vitalii Kim, the local governor.
Residents of Nikopol – a town just across the Dnipro River from Russian-held territory surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – weathered another night of heavy shelling. The attack affected more than a dozen residences and caused a widespread power outage, according to local officials.
The Ukrainians accused the Russians of using the nuclear power plant as a military base, assuming the Ukrainians would not fire on it given the risks involved. But Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that their country’s military struck Russian positions in the town where the plant is located, Enerhodar.
“It was really hot in Enerhodar, literally,” the city’s exiled mayor, Dmytro Orlov, said in a statement. He said three units of Russian military equipment, parked at the entrance to a local hotel, had been destroyed.
As the Russians worked to repair a vital bridge over the Dnipro River further south near the city of Kherson, the Ukrainians said it remained impassable and Russian forces based on the west bank of the river were largely isolated from resupply and support.