The war in Ukraine entered a new, deadlier phase on Saturday as Russian troops advanced into the country’s south and shelling was reported at a power complex in the area, igniting fears of a nuclear disaster.
A British intelligence report warned that Russian troops are moving into southern Ukraine and predicted that fighting would now shift from the Donbas region in the east of the country to Kherson and the Crimean peninsula in the south.
“Russia’s war with Ukraine is entering a new phase, with the heaviest fighting moving to a front line of around 350 km stretching southwest from near Zaporizhzhya to Kherson, parallel to the Dnieper River,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.
“Russian forces are almost certainly massing in the south in anticipation of Ukraine’s counteroffensive or in preparation for a possible attack,” the intelligence report added.
On Friday, explosions were reported at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power complexWhich one Russian forces took over in March. The facility, the largest in Europe, is located on the banks of the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russia for the attack, calling it a “heinous crime” and an “act of terrorism”.
“Today, the occupiers created another extremely risky situation for everyone in Europe,” Zelensky said in his nightly broadcast on Friday.
Russia denied launching the attack and blamed Ukrainian forces.
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said the production capacity of one unit at the facility had been reduced and power was cut to another unit. according to CNN.
Separately, at a closed-door meeting in the Russian resort of Sochi on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to set up a summit between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Zelensky.