The fate of Ukraine’s second-largest power plant is in the balance after Russian-backed forces claimed to have captured it intact, but Kyiv did not confirm its seizure, saying only that fighting was ongoing. happening nearby.
The seizure of the Soviet-era coal-fired Vuhlehirsk power plant in eastern Ukraine would be Moscow’s first strategic gain in more than three weeks, which it calls “Special Activity” to demilitarize and “differentiate” its neighbour.
Russian and Russian-backed forces have struggled to make meaningful progress on the ground since they captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk in early July.
Unverified footage posted on social media on Wednesday shows fighter jets of Russia’s private military company Wagner standing in front of the Vuhlehirsk power plant that some Russian state media reported. — citing Russian-backed officials — reported separately that it was hit by the storm.
Ukraine did not confirm the seizure of the power plant and said only that “wars” were taking place in two nearby areas. It said Monday that “enemy units” had made some gains around the plant.
British military intelligence on Wednesday said the Wagner warplanes may have succeeded in making tactical advances in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine around the power plant and the nearby village of Novoluhanske.
It said some Ukrainian forces may have withdrawn from the area.
Russia initially sought to capture the capital, Kyiv, in the early days of the invasion but later withdrew, focusing its efforts on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk province, which is part of the Donbas, said at least one person was killed by a Russian attack on a hotel in the town of Bakhmut, north of the power station and a target targeted by Russian forces. said they want to shoot.
“According to preliminary information, there are dead and injured people; Kyrylenko wrote on Facebook. The local emergency service said that so far there have been a number of deaths and four injuries.
Ukraine hits the bridge in Kherson
Russian forces meanwhile suffered a setback in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine after Ukrainian forces attacked a key bridge between the Dnipro River and what a Russian-appointed local administrator said. United States provides High Mobility Artillery Missile System (HIMARS).
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Twitter that the attacks on the bridges over the Dnipro River created a “dilemma” for Russia.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-founded regional administration in Kherson, confirmed the bridge had crashed overnight and traffic had been halted.
But he sought to reduce the damage, stressing that the attack would not affect the outcome of the wars “in any way”.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that Russians cannot “evade reality” and should “learn to swim across the Dnipro River”.
You could call the Antonivsʹkyy bridge an anti-aircraft means of intercepting all ua missiles, but you can’t escape reality – the occupiers should learn to swim across the Dnipro River. Or get out of Kherson while you still can. There may be no third warning.
– айло одоляк (@Podolyak_M) July 27, 2022
Ukrainian forces have in recent weeks recaptured territory in the Kherson region, which fell to Russian forces easily and soon after their invasion was launched on 24 February.
Their counterattack, aided by long-range artillery provided by the West, saw their forces approach the city of Kherson, which had a pre-war population of about 300,000.
Export of cereals
Ukraine on Wednesday said it had restarted operations at blocked Black Sea ports as it moved closer to resumption. grain exports with the opening of a coordination center to oversee a United Nations-backed agreement.
Kyiv said it hopes to start sending out the first of millions of tonnes of grain “this week” though a missile attack of Russia over the weekend on the port in Odesa.
Ukraine’s navy said “work has continued” at export centers to prepare ships to be escorted through mine-infested waters for access to world markets.
John Stawpert, environment and trade manager at the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), says there are about “100 ships stranded in the northern and western Black Sea ports” but not all of them are able to move. Ukrainian cereals. to the global market.
“The [ships]about 50 people will be able to bring this county out,” Stawpert told Al Jazeera from London, where ICS is headquartered.
He added: “How we make them is still a question that needs to be answered.
Delivery bottlenecks from two of the world’s largest grain exporters have contributed to a price spike that has made food imports expensive for some of the world’s poorest countries.