Russian shelling hits military, civilian targets
"The enemy is concentrating its efforts on establishing full control over the territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions."
Russia is attacking scores of civilian and military targets in its bid to establish full control over the east Ukraine regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, with 120 rockets hitting the area around the town of Nikopol overnight, Ukrainian officials said yesterday.
Dnipropetrovsk governor Valentyn Reznychenko said three people were killed and seven wounded by shelling in Nikopol.
"The enemy is concentrating its efforts on establishing full control over the territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions," Ukraine's General Staff said in a report, citing more than 60 settlements and military targets.
Heavy fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky yesterday, while to the west, Ukraine accused Russian forces of using Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex to shield artillery.
An official with the Russia-backed Donetsk People's Republic said Pisky, on the front line 10 km (6 miles) northwest of the provincial capital Donetsk, was under the control of Russian and separatist forces.
"It's hot in Pisky. The town is ours but there remain scattered pockets of resistance in its north and west," the official, Danil Bezsonov, said on Telegram.
Ukrainian officials denied that the heavily fortified town, a key to the defence of Donetsk, had fallen, reports Reuters.
The Donbas region, comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, became Russia's main objective after it failed to seize the capital Kyiv at the beginning of the war in February. Luhansk is now almost completely under Russian control but Donetsk is holding out.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said in an interview posted on YouTube that Russian "movement into Pisky" had been "without success".
Ukraine state energy company Energoatom yesterday said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex was shelled again yesterday, putting the blame on Russian forces that seized the area in March.
The plant's area was struck five times, including near the site where radioactive materials are stored, but that nobody was injured and the situation at the plant remained under control, Energoatom said in a statement.
Meanwhile, satellite pictures released yesterday showed devastation at a Russian air base in Crimea, hit days earlier in an attack that suggested Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war.
Pictures released by independent satellite firm Planet Labs showed three near-identical craters that had precisely struck buildings at Russia's Saki air base. The base, on the southwest coast of Crimea had suffered extensive fire damage with the burnt-out husks of at least eight destroyed warplanes clearly visible.
In Moscow, China's ambassador Zhang Hanhui accused the United States of pushing Russia into a corner with repeated expansions of the Nato military alliance and support for Ukraine's alignment with the European Union.
Washington's "ultimate goal is to exhaust and crush Russia with a protracted war and the cudgel of sanctions", Zhang was quoted as saying.