The Ukrainian military said on Saturday it had killed several Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in fighting in the Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a vital link in Moscow’s supply lines.
The army’s southern command stated that rail traffic to Kherson on the Dnipro River was cut off, potentially separating occupied Crimea and supplies to Russian forces west of the river in the east.
Defense and intelligence officials from Britain, which has been one of Ukraine’s most staunch allies in the West since the February 24 invasion of Moscow, portrayed Russian forces as struggling to keep pace.
Ukraine has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems in recent weeks to severely damage three bridges across Dnipro, cut off the city of Kherson and – in the assessment of British defense officials – the west bank of the river. But Russia’s 49th Army is heavily deployed. To be embroiled in a blow or accident.
Ukraine’s southern command said more than 100 Russian soldiers and seven tanks were destroyed in Friday’s fighting in the southern regions of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa.
Yuri Sobolevsky, the first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, asked residents to stay away from Russian ammunition piles.
“The Ukrainian military is pitting this against the Russians and this is only the beginning,” Sobolevsky wrote on the Telegram app.
The pro-Ukraine governor of the Kherson region, Dmitro Butry, said the Berislav district was particularly badly affected. Across the river is to the northwest of the Berislav Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
“In some villages, there is not a single house left, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people are living in cellars,” Butry wrote on Telegram.
Reuters Could not independently verify the reports.
Earlier this week officials from the Russian-appointed administration running the Kherson region rejected Western and Ukrainian assessments of the situation.
In an intelligence update on Saturday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia had installed two pontoon bridges and a ferry system to compensate for bridges damaged in the Ukrainian attacks.
Russian-established officials in the occupied territories in southern Ukraine were preparing to hold a referendum on joining Russia, possibly later this year, and “forcing the population to reveal personal details in order to create a vote register”. ”, it added.
On Friday the ministry described the Russian government as “furiously desperate” after losing thousands of soldiers in the war. The head of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency, Richard Moore, said Russia is “running out of steam”.
Ukraine and Russia have traded allegations over a missile attack or explosion that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the eastern Donetsk province. The incident took place early Friday in the border town of Olenivka, held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Russia’s defense ministry on Saturday published a list of Ukrainian prisoners of war who it said were killed and wounded, saying it was a missile attack by the Ukrainian military. It said 50 prisoners were killed and 73 others were injured in the attack by US-made HIMARS rockets.
Ukraine’s armed forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery had targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of those held there. Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba said on Friday that Russia had committed a war crime and called for international condemnation.
Reuters Separate versions of events could not be immediately verified, but some of the deaths were confirmed by Reuters journalists in prison.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that “all political, criminal and moral responsibility for the bloody genocide against the Ukrainians falls on (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky, his criminal regime and Washington who supports him”.
A charity affiliated with Ukraine’s Azov Regiment said on Telegram that it was not able to immediately confirm or deny the authenticity of the Russian list of those killed and wounded.
Reuters TV on Friday showed the remains of a charred building filled with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them, while others were lying on military stretchers or on the ground outside.
The shell fragments were laid out on a blue metal bench. It was not possible to immediately locate any identification marks and it was not clear where the fragments were collected.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was seeking access to the site and offered to help evacuate the wounded.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians since its invasion and says it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians.