Authorities in Kyiv said Moscow had started to build up troops to send towards Kryvyi Rih, the steel-producing city of 600,000 people where the Ukrainian president grew up, which lies around 30 miles from the southern frontline.
The warning came as Ukraine’s military said Russia was preparing “a hostile counter-offensive” in the south where Ukraine’s forces are mounting an attack to take back the occupied Kherson region seized in the early phases of Vladimir Putin’s invasion. It has already recaptured more than 50 villages.
“(Russia) has begun creating a strike group in the Kryvyi Rih direction. It’s also quite likely the enemy is preparing a hostile counter-offensive with the subsequent plan of getting to the administrative boundary of Kherson region,” Ukrainian commanders said.
It came as cities across Ukraine reported being shelled overnight. Governors of the Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions today reported being blasted, with civilian infrastructure and houses damaged.
In their daily intelligence briefing, UK defence chiefs said Ukraine’s missile and artillery units continued to target Russian military strongholds, support bases and ammunition depots and “this will highly likely impact Russian military logistical resupply and put pressure on Russian military combat support elements.”
The Ministry of Defence said after a successful strike on the strategic Antonivskiy Bridge over the Dnipro River in Kherson that Russian troops had “almost certainly” placed radar reflectors in the water to disrupt missile targeting equipment. “This highlights the threat Russia feels from the increased range and precision of Western-supplied systems,” they said.
In other developments the US Senate and the Italian parliament both approved Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is appointing a fact-finding mission to investigate killings at a jail housing prisoners of war in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine.
US intelligence officials reportedly say Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack that left 53 dead and dozens more wounded. Russia claims Ukraine’s military used US-supplied rocket launchers to strike the prison, which Ukraine denied.
Concern also continued over the Zaporizhzhia power plant in southeastern Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week accused Russia of using the plant, which it overran in March, as a military base to launch attacks on Ukrainian forces.
The situation at the plant is “completely out of control”, the head of the UN’s nuclear agency said.