Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk – but have so far managed to repel many of the attacks. A post on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian military’s Southern Operational Command said: “Our missile and artillery units, within the framework of fire missions, ensured confirmed losses of the enemy in the amount of 31 rockets, one T-72 tank, two self-propelled Pion guns, one self-propelled artillery, one Sani mortar complex and two units of automotive equipment.
“Two warehouses with enemy ammunition in Blagodativka and Novopetrivka were also destroyed.”
Both villages are located in the south-east of Ukraine, close to the captured port city of Mariupol.
Referring to a city located on the strategically important Dnipro river, the post added: “Nikopol was shelled with jet artillery.
“Warehouses, workshops and administrative premises of the industrial enterprise were affected. Without human losses.
“In the Marganets community, shelling was carried out on open areas. Without destruction and victims.”
Two days earlier, Southern Operational Command claimed two other ammo dumps had been likewise destroyed in Muzykivka, close to the besieged city of Kherson, and Nova Kakhovka, also located on the banks of the Dnipro.
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“But the town is basically under Ukrainian control.”
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces today reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front – particularly the Kherson region, mainly controlled by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.
Attention has also been focused on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on the southern bank of the Dnipro amid fears of a catastrophe over renewed shelling in recent days which Russia and Ukraine blame on each other.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe’s largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a “special target” of Ukrainian forces.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which seeks to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors.
Mr Zelensky yesterday said Ukraine had many times proposed different formats to the Russian leadership for peace talks, without progress.
He added: “So we have to defend ourselves, we have to answer every form of terror, every instance of shelling – the fierce shelling which does not let up for a single day.”
Exact figures for the casualties inflicted on Russia since the start of the war almost six months ago are unclear – but members of the US Congress were told during a classified briefing last month more than 75,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded.
Speaking afterwards, Elissa Slotkin, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives who is serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said: “You’ve got incredible amounts of investment in their land forces, over 80 percent of their land forces are bogged down, and they’re tired. But they’re still the Russian military.
“The sort of main conversation in the briefing was, you know, what more we can and should be doing for the Ukrainians, literally in the next three to six weeks, very urgently.
“I think that what we heard very firmly from President Zelensky and reinforced today is that the Ukrainians really want to hit Russia in the teeth a few times before the winter comes, put them in the best position possible, particularly hitting them down south.”