A Ukrainian presidential adviser stated that Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine's second-largest power plant in the eastern Donetsk area and are conducting a "massive redeployment" of troops to three southern districts.
Wednesday (July 27), Russian-backed forces claimed to have captured the coal-fired Vuhlehirsk power station undamaged, marking Moscow's first strategic success in more than three weeks.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky, stated in a YouTube-posted interview, "They achieved a small tactical advantage by capturing Vuhlehirsk."
Arestovych stated that the Russian redeployment was shifting from offensive to defensive strategy in what Moscow refers to as its "special operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" its neighbor. Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.
Arestovych and another Ukrainian official reported that Russia was deploying troops to Melitopol, Zaporizhia, and Kherson districts. The vital bridge over the Dnipro River in Kherson has been destroyed by Ukrainian shelling, halting traffic.
Russian officials had previously stated that pontoon bridges and boats would transport troops across the river.
In a Wednesday evening address, Zelensky stated that Ukraine would reconstruct the Antonivskyi bridge over the Dnieper and other regional crossings.
We are doing everything possible to deny the invading forces any logistical advantages in our country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose government views Russia's invasion as an unprovoked act of aggression, stated in Washington that he planned a telephone contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — the first between the two diplomats since before the war began.
The conversation in the coming days will not be a "negotiation about Ukraine," Blinken stated at a news conference, reiterating Washington's view that any negotiations on ending the war must take place between Kyiv and Moscow.
The TASS news agency claimed that Russia had not received a formal request from the United States regarding a phone call between Blinken and Lavrov.
Blinken stated that the United States has made a "substantial offer" to Russia in exchange for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan but did not specify what the United States was offering in return.
Blinken stated that he would urge Lavrov to accept the offer.
A person familiar with the issue corroborated a CNN report that Washington was willing to exchange Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, in return for an American prisoner.
In addition to discussing Americans arrested by Russia, Blinken stated that he would discuss with Lavrov the provisional agreement on grain exports agreed by Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Ukraine last week.
Wednesday, Russia cut gas exports to Europe in a dispute with the European Union over energy. Since invading, Russia has prevented grain shipments from Ukraine, but on Friday, it agreed to allow delivery via the Black Sea to Turkey's Bosphorus Strait and on to global markets.
On Saturday, just 12 hours after the agreement was reached, Russia fired cruise missiles at Odesa, the largest port in Ukraine. This threw the deal into serious doubt.
Before the invasion and ensuing sanctions, Russia and Ukraine exported roughly one-third of the world's wheat.
Since their seizure of the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk at the start of July, Russian and Russian-backed forces have struggled to make a serious advance on the ground.
They have been pushed back repeatedly by furious Ukrainian opposition.