KYIV, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday night, November 8, said his forces would not yield “a single centimeter” in battles for control of eastern Donetsk region while Russian-installed officials described Ukrainian forces moving into one southern town with tanks.
The focal points of the conflict in the industrial region of Donetsk are around the towns of Bakhmut, Soledar and Avdiivka, the theater of the heaviest fighting in the country since Russian forces invaded their neighbour in late February.
“The activity of the occupiers remains at an extremely high level – dozens of attacks every day,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
“They are suffering extraordinarily high losses. But the order remains the same – to advance on the administrative boundary of Donetsk region. We will not yield a single centimeter of our land,” he said.
The region is one of four Russia claimed to have annexed in late September. Fighting had been going on there between Ukrainian military and Russian proxy forces since 2014, the same year Moscow annexed Crimea in the south.
Fierce fighting in southern town
A Russian-installed mayor in the town of Snihurivka east of the southern city of Mykolaiv was cited by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying on Tuesday that residents had seen tanks and that fierce fighting was going on.
“They got into (radio) contact during the day and said there were tanks moving around and, according to their information, heavy fighting on the edge of the town,” the mayor Yuri Barabashov said. “People saw this equipment moving through the streets in the town centre,” he told RIA.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in Kherson region, said Ukrainian forces had tried to advance on three fronts, including Snihurivka, according to his Telegram messaging app account.
Vitaly Kim, the Ukrainian governor of Mykolaiv region, strongly suggested that Ukrainian forces had already evicted Russian forces from the area. He quoted what appeared to be a conversation between Russian servicemen.
“The Russian troops are complaining that they have already been thrown out of there,” a statement on Kim’s Telegram channel said.
Reuters was not able to verify the battlefield reports.
There was no official word on the situation in the town from military officials in either Ukraine or Russia.
Ukrainian forces have been on the offensive in recent months, while Russia is regrouping to defend areas of Ukraine it still occupies, having called up hundreds of thousands of reservists over the past month.
Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said on Tuesday that 21 Russian conscripts had surrendered to Ukrainian forces around Svatove in Luhansk region.
“These poor mobilized men – really poor, they had had nothing to eat or drink in three days – of course they decided to surrender,” Zhdanov said on his YouTube channel.
Russia’s TASS news agency reported that Ukrainian forces armed with a US-made HIMARS multiple-launch rocket system fired two rockets toward the Luhansk city of Stakhanov, known in Ukrainian as Kadiivka. It said four civilians there had been killed by rocket fire on Sunday night, November 6.
On Tuesday night, a Ukrainian military statement accused Russian troops of continuing to loot and destroy infrastructure in Kherson, where a showdown has been looming for weeks in the only regional capital Russia has captured intact since its invasion.
“On 7th November, a convoy of trucks passed over the dam of the Kakhova hydroelectric station loaded with home appliances and building materials,” the statement said.
Russian forces were dismantling mobile phone towers and taking away equipment, it said.
In an area near the city of Beryslav, Russian forces “blew up a power line and took equipment from a solar power station.”
In Kherson city, it said Russian troops removed exhibits, furniture and equipment from a museum devoted to artist Oleksiy Shovkunenko, known for his paintings of portraits and landscapes.
Kherson is one of four partially occupied Ukrainian provinces that Russia claims to have annexed and arguably the most strategically important. It controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula and the mouth of the Dnipro, the river that bisects Ukraine.
Zelenskiy also said in his address that around 4 million people were without power in 14 regions plus the capital Kyiv, but on a stabilization rather than an emergency basis. Scheduled hourly power outages would affect the whole of the country on Wednesday, Ukraine’s electrical grid operator Ukrenergo said.
Russian missile and drone attacks have targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the past few weeks as winter approaches when mean temperatures typically drop to several degrees below zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) and lows of -20 Celsius.
The UN General Assembly is due to vote next week on a draft resolution recognizing that Russia must be responsible for reparation in Ukraine for the injury, including any damage, caused by “internationally wrongful acts.” The text has been put forward by Ukraine, Canada, Guatemala and the Netherlands.
Three-quarters of the 193-member General Assembly voted in March to denounce Russia’s invasion and then again in October to condemn Moscow’s attempted annexation of parts of Ukraine. – Rappler.com