Ukraine war: Russian forces seize control of key power plant, push more troops south in new push

Russian forces have seized control of Ukraine’s second-largest power plant and are pushing “maximum troops” into three key areas in the south.

The bold moves came amid expectations of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowing to retake the southern city of Kherson, which fell to Russia in the early days of the war.

Russian-backed forces on Wednesday claimed to have seized the Soviet-era Vuhlehirsk coal-fired power plant, in what was Moscow’s first significant gain in more than three weeks.

However, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, described it as “a small tactical advantage” for Russia.

Moscow confirmed it was moving ahead with a “massive redeployment” of troops to three southern regions: Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

Image: Kherson has been badly affected by the conflict with many houses bombed

Unverified reports claimed that Russian forces had attacked the city of Mykolaiv with multiple rocket launchers.

But Ukrainian forces in the south said they had killed 66 enemy soldiers and destroyed three tanks and two weapons dumps in the past 24 hours.

Reuters news agency also said Ukraine had bombed a major bridge spanning the Dnipro River in Kherson, closing it to traffic.

Undeterred, Russian officials said they would simply turn to pontoon bridges and ferries to get forces across.

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1:22 Ukraine bombs Russian supply bridge

In his evening speech in his country, President Zelenskyy said: “We are doing everything possible so that the occupation forces do not have any logistical opportunity in our country.”

gas stop

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what Moscow calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbor.

Ukraine and its allies call the invasion an unprovoked war of aggression.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he plans to hold a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the first between the two diplomats since before the start of the war .

However, Blinken stressed that the call, which is expected to take place in the coming days, would not be “a negotiation about Ukraine”. Any talks to end the war must be between Kyiv and Moscow, he said.

One of the issues believed to be on the table is a US offer to Russia to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, both currently in Russian prisons.

Meanwhile, Russia cut gas flows to Europe on Wednesday in an energy standoff with the European Union.

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