According to the Ukrainian side, several residential houses were damaged or destroyed during the overnight shelling of Zaporozhye, several residents were reportedly trapped under the rubble, and at least two deaths were reported. Several fires were also reported to have broken out.
“As a result of the enemy’s attacks, fires broke out in the city,” the governor of the Zaporozhye region, Oleksandr Staruk, wrote on Telegram. “It is possible that there are more fatalities. Rescuers are already rescuing those trapped under the rubble.” He later announced that Russian troops had fired seven rockets at tall buildings in the city, but the number of casualties was not yet clear.
In the meantime, Ukrainian troops are continuing their breakthrough in the east and south, where they have achieved important military objectives in the last week, and have retaken control of several dozen cities in the region, which Russia had otherwise declared annexation of.
According to the Guardian, military experts estimate that Russia is at its weakest point, which can be attributed in part to the fact that it did not decide to mobilize earlier, and in part to the loss of troops and equipment.
New breakthroughs of the Ukrainian army
In the Kherson region, the Ukrainian army has increased its control zone by between 9 and 18 kilometers, according to the southern command of the Ukrainian army. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohrihorivka and Petropavlivka are again under Ukrainian control. As he said in his Wednesday evening address, “the villages were freed from the fake referendum.”
Later, he addressed pro-Russian soldiers in Russian. “Ukrainians know why they are fighting. And more and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they have to die just because one person does not want to end the war,” he said about Putin’s role.
Governor of Kherson Kiril Stremusov, who was appointed to the position by Moscow, said the Russian withdrawal was tactical and that the Russian military was preparing for a “retaliatory strike.” Russian troops have been withdrawing from the southeast for several weeks, and from the beginning of the week also from the south.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov meanwhile announced that his soldiers are continuing the autumn offensive and are penetrating further. “While the “Russian Parliament” is infected with a futile attempt at annexation, our troops continue to advance,” he said in a post on Twitter on Thursday, where he posted a video showing how the Ukrainian army is making daily progress in liberating the occupied territories. “This is the best answer to all the “referendums”, “decrees”, “treaties” and pathetic speeches.”
Grassi to Kyiv and Moscow
Meanwhile, Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is on his way to Kyiv and then to Moscow. “On my way to Kyiv for important meetings. The need for a protected and safe zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is now more urgent than ever.” As you know, he is the president of Russia Vladimir Putin after signing a document annexing four Ukrainian provinces to Russia, which represents about 18 percent of Ukraine’s territory, he also issued a decree ordering the government to take ownership of Zaporozhye, the largest Ukrainian and European nuclear power plant. The Russian agency Tass reports that Grassi will also visit Moscow, where he will discuss with his interlocutors the safety of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya.
The IAEA is said to have been informed that one of the reactors is to be restarted after all six reactors have been shut down for several weeks. The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, has announced that he will take over the management of the plant, urging workers not to sign any documents with the Russian occupiers.
Reuters reports that Russia is lobbying for next week’s vote on the annexation of the four regions to be held in secret rather than in public.