KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops fought Thursday to regain lost ground in areas of Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed while Moscow tried to pound the invaded country into submission with more missile and drone attacks on the country’s critical infrastructure.
Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. In the neighboring Donetsk region, fighting raged near the city of Bakhmut. Kremlin-backed separatists have controlled parts of both regions for 8 1/2 years.
Putin declared marital law in Luhansk, Donetsk and southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions on Wednesday in an attempt to assert Russian authority in the annexed areas following a string of battlefield setbacks and a troubled troop mobilization.
The unsettled status of the illegally absorbed territory was especially visible in the Kherson region’s capital, where military officials have replaced Kremlin-installed civilian leaders amid a mass evacuation and an ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Kherson city was one of the first urban areas captured by Russia when it invaded Ukraine, and it remains a prime target for both sides because of its key industries and major river port. Thousands of the city’s quarter of a million residents streamed out of the city in anticipation of intensified assaults.
The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that Ukrainian forces continued to engage the enemy, mounting 15 attacks on Russian military strongholds in the Kherson region.
Meanwhile, Russia continued its stepped-up attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, dispatching drones and missiles to eight regions. At least three civilians died and 14 were wounded in overnight attacks across Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian president’s office.
In Kryvyi Rih, Russian strikes damaged a power plant and another energy facility, cutting electricity to the central Ukraine city of about 600,000 residents. Apart from being Zelenskyy’s hometown, Kryvyi Rih is home to several large metallurgical factories that are key to Ukraine’s economy. Regional governor Valentin Reznichenko said the city sustained serious damage.
Ukrainian authorities said missile and drone strikes ignited several fires in the southern city of Mykolaiv, with four drones hitting a school. Another school in Komyshuvakha, a village in the Zaporizhzhia region, also took four drone strikes and sustained damage. Authorities reported no casualties.
Russia’s sustained attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure prompted authorities to ask residents to reduce their energy consumption from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. starting Thursday and to dim city street lights. They warned of rolling blackouts.
“Now, every illuminated business sign, billboard or washing machine can lead to serious emergency shutdowns,” Reznichenko said.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
The Associated Press