The Russian forces launched a major offensive in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Joint General Staff said in its report on the situation Friday morning.
“The enemy is conducting an offensive operation in the direction of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donetsk region,” the report said.
He added that this was aimed at positioning Russian forces to launch an attack on Solidar and Bakhmut and extending Russia’s control to the west of the city of Donetsk.
Solidar and Bakhmut form part of the defensive line to the east of the major cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, which were home to more than half a million people before the war.
The last area still under the control of Ukrainian government forces is the larger eastern Donbass region, and has been heavily fortified from the Ukrainian side.
The report of the General Staff stated that the Russian offensive near Bakhmut was unsuccessful, while fighting continued at the entrances to Avdiivka, just north of Donetsk.
In southern Ukraine, authorities announced a curfew for more than two days in the coastal city of Mykolaiv to eliminate those helping the Russian army.
“During the weekend, the city will be closed and water and food purchases will be made in a timely manner,” Governor Vitaly Kim said in a video message on Friday.
We’re also working, with regard to the conspirators”.
The statement added that a general curfew will take effect from eleven in Friday evening, until five in the morning next Monday (0200-2000 GMT).
The governor had already announced a curfew last July.
Mykolaiv is bombed almost daily by the Russian army, from a distance of about 25 kilometers.
On the other hand, Moscow and Kiev on Friday accused each other of the bombing of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant of Ukraine in southeastern Ukraine.
This afternoon, a number of Russian news agencies quoted the administration of the city of Enerhodar, where the power station is located, as saying that the Ukrainian army bombed the site.
Reports said that two power lines were injured and damaged, and a fire broke out.
This information could not be independently verified.
In contrast, the Ukrainian side said that the Russians bombed the site themselves.
As a result, one of the high-voltage lines connecting to the neighboring thermal power plant was damaged, the Ukrainian state nuclear power company Enerhoatum said.
One unit of the nuclear power plant was shut down.
Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Enerhodar, who fled the country, warned the remaining citizens that residential areas were bombed from the site of the power station.
According to the British Ministry of Defense, based on British intelligence information, that Russian activities may endanger the security and safety of the nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye.
“After five months of occupation, Russia’s intentions regarding the nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye are still unclear, but the measures taken by Moscow at the facility may have undermined the security and safety of normal operations at the plant,” the ministry said.
The report said that Russian forces used artillery units in areas close to the nuclear plant to target a Ukrainian area on the western bank of the Dnipro River.
He added that the Russians used the area around the station, the city of Enerhodar adjacent to it, as a resting place for their forces, “and also took advantage of the protective status of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk of Ukrainian night attacks on their equipment and personnel”.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan held summit talks on Friday in the Russian resort of Sochi.
Ahead of the meeting, Putin thanked the Turkish president for his role in brokering a recent agreement to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, which had been halted for months following Ukraine’s invasion of its neighbor.
On Friday, Russia announced a ban on entry to 62 Canadians, including political and military officials, priests and journalists, in response to sanctions imposed by Ottawa a short time ago on Russian figures.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that this decision was taken “in view of the hostile nature of the regime of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau” and in response to practices aimed at “insulting not only the multinational and multi-religious Russian people, but also Orthodox believers around the world”.
In recent months, Canada has imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, targeting in particular Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement stressed that the people targeted by Russia with sanctions were involved in “malicious activities” against “the Russian world and Russian traditional values”.
Among the Canadian figures on the Russian sanctions list are Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesman Adrian Blanchard, the Catholic priest and editor-in-chief of Confivom magazine Raymond de Sousa, the commander of the Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Michael Charles Wright, a number of advisers to the Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and a defense activist on LGBT rights, Brent Hawks.
On February 24, Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine that necessitated the imposition of unprecedented Western sanctions on Moscow, which responded in kind.