As invading Russian troops launched a major offensive in the eastern Donbass region near the town of Kreminna, and pressed fierce assaults during the battle of Bakhmut, Ukrainian authorities on Friday said that there have been 17 attacks on Zaporizhzhia’s energy infrastructure.
Several artillery strikes were also carried out on targets in the Ochakov area of the Nikolaev region. Zaporizhzhia City Council Secretary Anatolii Kurtiev said in a Telegram update that at around 4:00 a.m. on February 10, Russians launched a barrage of strikes on Zaporizhzhia, the largest attack since the launch of the full-scale war against Ukraine. Several critical infrastructures in Kharkiv was also destroyed by the artillery strikes, Kharkiv’s Mayor Ihor Terekhov noted.
Strikes ahead of Grossi’s visit to Russia
The new strikes on Europe’s largest nuclear plant Zaporizhzhia come as International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is expected to make a visit to Russia this week for negotiating talks on establishing a safety and security zone around six-unit Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that has been under Russian control since March 2022.
Due to constant shelling by the warring forces on the frontline of the war, parts of the site have been damaged and emergency diesel generators are used as the power source. Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, meanwhile was quoted by Tass as saying that there were no plans for a meeting between Grossi and President Vladimir Putin, but that “Grossi is awaited in Russia by his colleagues from Rosatom and from the foreign ministry”.
Peskov noted at the briefing that Russia expects “substantive negotiations” at a designated level when Grossi arrives. A statement from Rosatom said: “When conducting our activities, including on international markets, we have always taken the view that nuclear energy should remain outside of politics. Rosatom works transparently all around the world in the interests of its customers and partners, and with strict adherence to international and national legislation.”
Kyiv’s head of the Luhansk Regional Military–Civil Administration Serhiy Haidai, in a statement to Ukrainian TV, said that there has been a significant escalation in the offensive and the Russian forces have been advancing Westwards into the frozen forests. He furthermore claimed that the Ukrainian military was holding out their positions and counter-striking, emphasising that the Russian offensive “has not worked”. “So far they haven’t had any success. Our defenders have been able to hold them back completely,” said Haidai.
“There had been ‘maximum escalation’ and a big increase in shooting and shelling, these attacks are practically a daily occurrence,” Haidai said in televised remarks. “We see small groups (of Russian soldiers) trying to advance, sometimes with the support of heavy armour – infantry fighting vehicles and tanks – and sometimes not. There is continuous firing,” he added.
Meanwhile, the assault detachments of Russia’s shadowy mercenaries group PMC Wagner already reached the outskirts of Chasov Yar. “All roads near Artemovsk (Bakhmut) are under fire control of the Russian Armed Forces,” said Yan Gagin, adviser to the acting head of the DPR said on Telegram.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry, in its intelligence, warned that Russia is planning a major offensive involving ballistic missile strikes from the Belarusian border that include attacks on Capital Kyiv. Invading forces will attempt to cut off supply from the east by bombing roads and bridges, pressing forward in a sweeping arc from the north and south.
Russia’s Wagner has brought reinforcement troops and infantry units to advance rapidly in what is being speculated a major offensive towards the front west of Svatove and Kreminna in the Luhansk region as fighting rages on in Bakhmut.