DParallel to the counter-offensive in the southern sector of the front, the Ukrainian army has apparently launched a large-scale attack in the Kharkiv region in the north-east of the country. Accordingly, Ukrainian troops are advancing there on the cities of Izyum and Kupyansk.
Ukrainian and Russian media as well as war correspondents unanimously report an operational encirclement of Russian troops in the city of Balakliia. Russian telegram channels also reported on the Ukrainian advance with unusually high intensity on Tuesday. They describe the combat actions of encircled Russian National Guard units as “heroic”.
A possible Ukrainian advance on Izyum poses a threat to the Russian headquarters in that area. Videos published on the Internet show the presence of Ukrainian forces in the village of Volochiv Yar, which is on the highway towards Kupyansk. The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports on the withdrawal of Russian troops to the north side of the Seversky Donetsk and Serednya Balakliika rivers. In some cases they blew up bridges to prevent a further advance by the Ukrainians.
Kyiv has not yet confirmed any advances
According to the ISW, in particular, the transfer of Russian units from the Kharkiv region and Donbass to the south made possible the Ukrainian offensive in this sector of the front. An official confirmation from the Ukrainian side about the offensive was still pending on Wednesday evening. No offensive effort was mentioned in the morning report of the Ukrainian General Staff. However, the army had previously announced that it would not report recaptures of towns until the situation was fully under control. Ukraine is also giving little information about the course of the counter-offensive on the southern front in the Cherson region, which began on August 29. There, strategically important supply routes across the Dnipro River and Russian ammunition depots were attacked on a large scale.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has for the first time taken direct responsibility for the attacks on Russian air bases in Crimea. In an article published on the Ukrinform portal, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zalushnyy announced that on August 9 the Saki airbase in Crimea was attacked by Ukraine with rockets. In the article, Zalushnyy also warns of the risk of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons and an attack by Belarus.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has criticized the report presented yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the inspection of the contested Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. According to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak, the crucial part is missing: instead of demanding that Russia clear the site and create a 10-15 kilometer demilitarization area, it is only calling for negotiations between the conflicting parties.
Energoatom calls for a UN mission in the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant
The power plant operator Energoatom has meanwhile spoken out in favor of sending a UN mission to the Russian-occupied indictment. After IAEA inspectors examined the Zaporizhia power plant, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for action to be taken from the IAEA investigation report. “Russian and Ukrainian forces must undertake not to conduct military activities towards or from the factory premises,” Guterres told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
IAEA Secretary General Rafael Grossi, who led the delegation himself, also addressed the panel. He advocated a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant. “We’re playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could happen,” Grossi said. The fact that the power plant had become the target of shelling is extremely dangerous. He called for military vehicles stationed on the site to be removed.
Moscow reacted cautiously to this demand and in turn demanded that the IAEA provide further information. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that no military equipment was installed on the site of the nuclear power plant. He also invited journalists from the West to get an idea of the situation on site. Western journalists should actually accompany the delegation’s visit. However, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, they were prevented from entering by Russian troops.
Russian troops had already occupied the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the first days of the war. However, it will continue to be operated by Ukrainian technicians. Bullets hit multiple times. Among other things, they hit the outbuildings of the nuclear reactors. Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the shelling. Since the nuclear power plant was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid after an impact, diesel generators could soon be used to supply the power plant, according to Ukrainian information.