Ukrainian Forces Continue To Repel Russian Attacks On Key Donbas City Of Bakhmut

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Ukrainian military forces have continued to foil Russian attempts to break through around the strategic city of Bakhmut to extend control over the Donbas region.

Having taken Syevyerodonetsk and Lysychansk weeks ago, Russian forces have focused on the key city of Bakhmut.

The town -- which had an estimated 70,000 residents before Russia launched its unprovoked full invasion on February 24 -- was shelled again on August 27, as were nearby Soldedar and Zaitseve, according to a Ukrainian military report.

It said Ukraine halted advances near two other major towns, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

An RFE/RL correspondent reporting from Slovyansk posted video of the aftermath of the overnight Russian shelling, showing destroyed and charred balconies and shattered windows of a five-story apartment building. Nearby buildings also suffered damage as well.

No casualties were reported in the Slovyansk attack, our correspondent reported.

The Ukrainian military also said its forces holding out in the coal-producing town of Avdiyivka had managed to repel a Russian assault despite enemy artillery and air strikes.

Near the key southern city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war, Ukrainian troops said they attacked three Russian command posts and at least two ammunition depots in the region.

The Ukrainian Army said its forces killed 11 Russian soldiers and destroyed 11 rocket launchers, three armored vehicles, and a self-propelled howitzer.

Details could not immediately be verified, but Russian-appointed administration chief Volodymyr Leontyev confirmed the Ukrainian attacks to Russian news agencies, saying the city of Nova Kakhovka had been shelled four times.

Shelling and heavy artillery fire near towns and a city near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant were also reported, as fears persisted that fighting in the vicinity could damage Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and cause a radiation leak.

Heavy firing during the night left parts of Nikopol without electricity, said regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko.

Reznichenko said that a 67-year-old woman was killed and four people were injured by Russian shelling and that houses, power lines, and gas pipelines had been damaged.

Rocket strikes damaged about a dozen residences in Marhanets, according to Yevhen Yevtushenko, the administration head for the district that includes the city of about 45,000.

The city of Zaporizhzhya, about 40 kilometers upriver from the nuclear plant, also came under fire during the night, wounding two people, city council member Anatoliy Kurtev told AP.

Ukrainian authorities began distributing iodine tablets to residents near the Zaporizhzhya plant to provide protection against potential radiation poisoning in the event of a disaster at the facility.

Elsewhere, the Ukrainian mayor of occupied Melitopol said Ukrainian military forces shelled a Russian military base in the city overnight.

Meanwhile, the British Defense Ministry has cast doubt on how Russia will be able to increase its armed forces or whether any such beefed-up force will increase its combat power in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last week to increase the size of Russia's armed forces to 2.04 million from 1.9 million as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month.

In its regular update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry said that it was not clear if this would be achieved by recruiting more volunteers or by increasing conscription.

Either way, it would likely not have a big impact on the war in Ukraine given "Russia has lost tens of thousands of troops; very few new contract servicemen are being recruited; and conscripts are technically not obliged to serve outside of Russian territory," the ministry said on Twitter on August 28.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is scheduled to travel to Sweden on August 29, then head to the Czech Republic the following day as Kyiv looks to solidify international support and to press for additional sanctions to pressure Moscow.

While in Prague, he is set to attend an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss new sanctions on Russia and a possible EU-wide visa ban for Russian tourists, a move receiving growing support from member states such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Finland, all of which have a border with Russian territory.

With reporting by Reuters and AP