Russia’s army thwarted a major attack by hundreds of Ukrainian troops attempting to break through defenses of the frontline in the city of Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine, defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.
“Today in the Zaporizhzhia direction, the enemy attempted to break through our defenses with forces… numbering up to 1,500 people and 150 armored vehicles,” state news agency TASS cited Shoigu as saying.
The minister said Russian intelligence detected the Ukrainian movements in time, allowing Russian forces to launch a “preemptive strike” using artillery, anti-tank weapons and aerial strikes. This stopped Ukrainian advance in all directions and forced their forces to “withdraw [after sustaining] heavy losses”, Shoigu said.
He added that the battle lasted two-hours and resulted in Ukrainian forces losing 30 tanks, up to 350 personnel and 11 infantry fighting vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side said that Russians shelled the Zaporizhzhia region almost 150 times during the past 24 hours. Yuriy Malashko, the head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, said there were a total of 148 attacks on 21 populated areas along the frontline, according to Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform. The attacks included three drone attacks, 18 shelling attacks from Russian multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) and 127 artillery strikes.
The Russian-held city of Zaporizhzhia is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at the eye of war. Russian troops took over the plant soon after the launch of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, Ukraine’s government refuses to acknowledge Russian control as legally valid.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi has repeatedly called on both warring sides to ensure the plant doesn’t come under attack to avoid a catastrophic nuclear accident. At the end of May he detailed to the UN Security Council five principles that needed to be observed in order to ensure the safety of the plant.
These principles aim to prevent attacks on or from the plant, specifically targeting reactors and spent fuel storage areas. They also prohibit the storage of heavy weapons and the presence of military personnel that could be used for attacks. Additionally, the principles emphasize the importance of maintaining a continuous and reliable off-site power supply to the plant. Protection of all essential structures, systems, and components of the plant from attacks or sabotage is another key principle. Lastly, it is crucial to refrain from any actions that could undermine these principles, ensuring the overall safety and security of nuclear facilities.