Russia's military fought Thursday (local time) to reclaim lost ground in illegally seized regions of Ukraine, as Moscow attempted to pound the occupied nation into submission with more missile and drone attacks on crucial infrastructure.
Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near Bilohorivka, a village in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region. In the neighboring Donetsk region, violence broke out in the vicinity of the city of Bakhmut. For 8.5 years, rebels supported by the Kremlin have ruled portions of both territories.
Putin imposed martial law in Luhansk, Donetsk, and the southern Ukrainian districts of Zaporizhia and Kherson on Wednesday to assert Russian control in the occupied regions following a series of combat failures and a difficult troop mobilization.
In the capital of the Kherson region, where Russian military officials have replaced Kremlin-installed civilian leaders amidst a mass evacuation and an ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive, the unrest of the unlawfully occupied territory was most evident.
Kherson city, with a prewar population of around 284,000, was one of the first metropolitan centers conquered by Russia when it invaded Ukraine. Due to its critical industries and major river port, it remains a prominent target for both sides. On Thursday, officials reported that 15,000 of the intended 60,000 people had fled the city in preparation for intensified attacks.
Thursday, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported that Ukrainian forces continued to confront the enemy, launching 15 operations against Russian military bases in the region of Kherson.
Russia maintained its intensified strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure by launching drones and missiles in eight districts. According to the office of the Ukrainian president, overnight attacks across Ukraine resulted in the deaths of at least three civilians and the wounding of fourteen others.
Russian strikes damaged a power plant and another energy complex in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, leaving over 600,000 persons without electricity. In addition to being the hometown of Zelenskyy, Kryvyi Rih is home to numerous big metallurgical enterprises that are essential to the Ukrainian economy. Governor of the region Valentin Reznichenko stated that the city received severe damage.
According to Ukrainian authorities, missile and drone attacks caused many fires in the city of Mykolaiv in the country's south, with four drones targeting a school. Another school in the village of Komyshuvakha, Zaporizhia, was damaged by four drone strikes and sustained damage. No casualties were reported by authorities.
Russia's persistent strikes on Ukraine's infrastructure prompted authorities to request that households minimize their energy consumption from 7:00 am to 11:00 am on Thursday and to lower municipal street lights. They issued a warning about rolling blackouts.
Now, any illuminated business sign, billboard, or the washing machine might cause critical emergency shutdowns, according to Reznichenko.
According to the Ukrainian army's general staff, there is a greater possibility that Russian forces may begin an offensive from Belarus to cut off supply channels for Western weapons and military equipment.
The deputy chief of the major operational department of the general staff, Oleksei Hromov, stated that Russia was moving planes and personnel to air bases and military infrastructure installations in Belarus.
Despite Kremlin assertions to the contrary, a prominent Russian military specialist accidentally admitted that Iran has supplied Russia with drones it employs in Ukraine.
Ruslan Pukhov, the director of a Moscow-based think tank called the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, begged journalists before a live television interview not to ask him where the drones originated, unaware that he was on TV.
"We are all aware that they were manufactured in Iran, but the authorities have not acknowledged this," Pukhov said.
Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denounced as "rumors" and "far-fetched assumptions" Thursday's claims that Russia is utilizing Iranian-made Shahed drones in Ukraine, according to Zakharova, are "rumors"
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, emphasized Tuesday that "Russian equipment with Russian names" is being utilized to strike targets in Ukraine. Peskov was asked if Russia was deploying Iranian drones.
The Russians have renamed the Iranian drones Geran-2.
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amirabdollahian tweeted that he told the European Union's foreign affairs leader that "the notion that Iran is providing missiles to Russia for use in the Ukraine conflict is false." ".
"Amirabdollahian stated, "We have defense cooperation with Russia, but sending weapons and drones against Ukraine is not our policy."
Iran's Shahed Aviation Industries and three Iranian generals were sanctioned by the EU on Thursday for endangering Ukraine's territorial integrity by supplying Russia with drones.
In a further indication of Russia's wavering mobilization, Ukrainian authorities report that over 3,000 Russians have called a hotline for soldiers who do not wish to fight and wish to surrender.
After Putin ordered the call-up of army reservists last month, more Russians are phoning the hotline, and some are crying out of fear of being drafted, according to the spokesperson for the hotline, Vitalii Matvienko.
"The number of calls increases as the Ukrainian counteroffensive advances," Matvienko told the Associated Press in an interview.
Ukraine has stated that it will ensure the safety of everyone who surrenders by international law and that they can either return to Russia or request to reside in certain European Union nations or Ukraine.