Russian and Ukrainian troops preparing for a large-scale battle in Kherson

Kyiv, UKRAINE (AP) — Russian and Ukrainian forces face a major battle over Kherson, a strategic southern industrial port city, in an area under martial law after an illegal merger by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Fights and evacuations have been reported in the Kherson region as Moscow seeks to subdue the invaded country with more missile and drone strikes on key infrastructure. Russians in the juxtaposition area facing difficulties on the battlefield, mobilization of the military authorities in trouble, increasing internal and external criticism, and international sanctions. The destabilizing state of the illegally absorbed territories was particularly seen in the capital of the Kherson region, where Russian military officials replaced civilian leaders set up in the Kremlin as part of martial law that took effect Thursday to prevent a Ukraine counterattack. With a pre-war population of about 284,000, the city of Kherson was one of the first urban areas occupied by Russia when it invaded Ukraine and is still the largest city. It is a major target for both sides because of its major industry and major river ports. Reports of sabotage and assassination of Russian-installed officials in Kherson, apparently one of the most active Ukrainian resistance movements in the occupied territories, surfaced for months. Officials set up in Russia are evacuating and building fortresses for the safety of the residents. Officials said on Thursday that 15,000 of the estimated 60,000 residents had displaced from the city and surrounding areas. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said Thursday that Ukrainian forces carried out 15 attacks on a Russian military stronghold in the Kherson region. A Russian Defense Ministry spokeswoman said the Kremlin forces repulsed Ukrainian attempts to advance with tanks into the towns of Sukhanov, Nova Kamianka and Cherbonyar. Five missile strikes on the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station about 70 km (44 miles) from the city of Kherson. He told Russian TV that the destruction of the facility would cut off an important canal that supplies water to the annexed Crimea. It emits 18 million cubic meters (4.8 billion gallons) and can flood Kherson and dozens of other areas with hundreds of thousands of people. He said at the European Council that Russia would condemn Ukraine. No claim can be independently verified. Russia’s new military commander in Ukraine this week acknowledged the threat posed by Ukraine’s counterattack on Kherson, and the British Ministry of Defense interpreted Thursday to mean the following: Authorities are seriously considering a large-scale withdrawal of troops from the area west of the Dnieper River.” Putin attempted to address another problem area on Thursday, the partial mobilization of reserves he ordered last month, and reached the goal of 300,000 people. He visited a training camp in the Ryazan region of Russia to show that progress is being made in improving training and supply issues for newly mobilized units. Russian TV showed him wearing goggles and earplugs, lying under a net in a field and shooting. A military officer showed President Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet and holding weapons. The officers displayed winter boots, clothes, cookware and other items, all in an attempt to oppose images Russians posted on social media of shabby or non-existent equipment for their newly mobilized units. Russians have called the hotline for soldiers who do not want to join the war and are demanding surrender. In another development: – Russian forces attacked a Ukrainian position near Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. In the neighboring Donetsk region, a battle took place near the city of Bakhmut. Separatists backed by the Kremlin controlled parts of both regions for eight and a half years. – Russia continues to attack energy infrastructure and dispatch drones and missiles to eight areas, allowing authorities to reduce energy consumption between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. residents and dim city street lights. They warned of a continuing blackout on Friday. A Russian airstrike on Kryvyi Rih damaged power plants and other energy facilities, cutting electricity in central Ukraine, which has an estimated 600,000 inhabitants. Kryvyi Rih is home to a metallurgical plant, which is the heart of Ukraine’s economy. Government Valentin Reznichenko said the city had suffered serious damage—Ukrainian authorities said missile and drone attacks set fires in the southern city of Mykolaiv, and four drones hit a school. Another school in the village of Zaporizzhia, Komyshuvakha, was also hit by drones four times. —The Ukrainian Armed Forces Chief of Staff reported that an attack by Russian forces in Belarus has increased the likelihood of cutting off supplies of Western weapons and equipment. Chief of Staff Oleksey Khromov said Russia is deploying aircraft and troops in Belarus. —The White House says Iranian troops are “engaging in the field” in Crimea supporting Russian drone strikes. This is evidence of a growing problem with Tehran’s role in supporting Russia in inflicting suffering on Ukrainian civilians as the cold weather sets in. -Despite the Kremlin — and Iran’s claims – a Russian military expert said that Iran was He unconsciously admitted that he had supplied Russia with the weaponized drones he was using. Before a TV interview, Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategy and Technical Analysis, a think tank, asked reporters not to ask questions about where the drone came from without knowing he was going live. “We all know they are Iranian, but the authorities have not recognized it,” Pukhov said. – The EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s Shahed Aviation Industries and three Iranian military generals on Thursday for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Assisted in supplying drones to Russia.___Lorne Cook of Brussels, Amir Vahdat of Tehran, Yuras Karmanau of Tallinn, Estonia, and Andrew Katell of New York contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s Ukrainian War Report: https://apnews . com/hub/russia-ukraine
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