Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Anatolii Stepanov / AFP 11:00 am, June 09, 2023On the 470th day of the Russian invasion, fighting is underway in the Zaporizhia region. This could be Kiev's counteroffensive, although Ukraine has not confirmed anything about it. On the Russian side, an apartment building was hit by a drone, injuring two people.
"Active fighting" raged early Friday in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine, according to a Russian occupation official, observers seeing it as the beginnings of the expected counter-offensive from Kiev, which remains silent. "At present, active fighting has resumed in the area between Orekhovo (the Russian name for Orikhiv, ed.) and Tokmak," at the current front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces, Vladimir Rogov said on Telegram.
Information to remember:
- "Active fighting" raged in the Zaporizhia region.
- A possible counter-offensive by Kiev, even if Ukraine remains silent on the issue.
- After the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on Tuesday, water levels are starting to drop in some cities, such as Kherson.
- In Russia, an apartment building was hit by a drone, injuring two people.
- After concerns about the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the IAEA confirms that water from the dam continues to cool the reactor.
He did not give more details, but according to Alexander Sladkov, a correspondent for Russian public television, which runs a Telegram channel followed by more than a million people, Russian and Ukrainian "artillery" are at work, Kiev troops are on the offensive according to him. "Long and hard fighting is going on," he wrote in the early morning on Telegram, saying that "the front line is stable." "The enemy produces incredible efforts, attacks. In vain. Ours are holding. The front line is preserved," he said, unverifiable claims from an independent source at this stage.
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The day before, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his men had repelled a Ukrainian offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, without giving the precise location of this attack. The head of the Russian paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said he saw in the latest "offensive actions" confirmed by Kiev "the beginning of a counter-offensive" that the Ukrainian army has been announcing for months to reconquer the territories occupied by Moscow.
Silence from Kiev
In its daily bulletin published Friday morning, the Ukrainian army did not report on these fights, limiting itself to listing banalities. "The adversary remains on the defensive," the Ukrainian command simply wrote in a statement about the front in the Zaporizhzhia region. The Ukrainian army, however, said it had destroyed in the night four X-101/X-55 missiles and ten drones out of more than 20 missiles fired by Russia that targeted "military installations and critical infrastructure", according to it.
According to observers, the Ukrainian army may be seeking, in the Zaporizhzhya region, to try to break through Tokmak, 40 km south of Orikhiv, an important logistical hub for Russian forces and the last important locality with the Black Sea cities of Melitopol and Berdiansk. The Ukrainian General Staff, however, remains very silent about its real intentions, maintaining vagueness on its strategy, to better surprise the Russian defenses that have been preparing for several months for a major assault by Kiev troops, supported by modern Western equipment.
Slight decrease in Kherson
In the neighbouring Zaporizhzhia region of Kherson, the consequences of the floods caused by Tuesday's destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River were still widely visible on Friday morning. In the city of Kherson itself, however, the water level was beginning to drop "for the first time", according to Laura Moussiïane, an employee of the local meteorological agency. "If yesterday the water was 5 meters above normal, today it is at a lower level," she told AFP.
"This is a very good trend," she said, four days with the spectacular destruction of the Kakhovka Dam, an imposing infrastructure located 70 km upstream, pushing thousands of civilians to flee the flooded areas, the authorities also fearing devastating consequences on fauna and flora. But the situation is still delicate in localities around Kherson, such as Chornobayvka, where rising waters began on Wednesday.
In Russia, a residential building hit by a drone in a southern city, two injured
Two people were injured Friday when a drone crashed into a residential building in the southern Russian city of Voronezh near Ukraine, local authorities said. "A drone fell in Voronezh," regional governor Alexander Gusev wrote on Telegram. "Two people were injured," he said, stressing that "all necessary assistance has been given to them."
Russian media published photos and a video showing an apartment building with a gutted and blackened façade, and several windows being shattered. Russia has been the target for weeks of a growing number of drone attacks and artillery bombardments that Moscow blames on Ukrainian forces.
Dam water continues to cool Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, IAEA confirms
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine continues to pump water from the Kakhovka dam to cool fuel and avoid an accident, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Thursday. The destruction of the dam on the Dnieper River has led to the evacuation of thousands of civilians from flooded areas and raised concerns for the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia site, which is 150 kilometres upstream.
After examination, it turned out that pumping operations should "be able to continue even if the level fell below the current threshold of 12.7 meters", previously considered critical, explained the UN body in a statement, which now sets the limit at "11 meters, or even lower". "In these difficult circumstances, this gives us a little more time before possibly moving on to other sources of supply," said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, expected at the scene next week.
When the dam can no longer be used, the plant will be able to use "a large retention basin located nearby as well as smaller reserves and on-site wells that can provide cooling water for several months". "It is vital that this basin remains intact." "Nothing should be done to undermine its integrity," Grossi warned earlier this week at a meeting of the agency's board of governors in Vienna.
The situation remains "very precarious and potentially dangerous", he insisted on Thursday. Reactor core fuel and storage pool fuel must be constantly cooled to avoid a meltdown accident and radioactive releases to the environment. Staff have already introduced measures to restrict water consumption, using it only for "essential activities related to nuclear safety".
The IAEA, which has a team of experts on site, has requested access to the place where the water level of the tank is measured, "in order to be able to carry out independent verifications".