The Russian military fired 33 rockets at civilian targets in the Ukrainian city of Kherson in the 24 hours before early Wednesday, the Ukrainian military said, as fighting intensified with Russia deploying more tanks and armored vehicles to the front lines.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stated in its morning report that Russian forces were attacking with mortars and artillery populated areas on the right bank of the Dnieper River near Kherson.
Russia denies attacking civilians. Reuters could not immediately verify these reports.
The Russian military left Kherson last month in one of Ukraine’s most significant advances in the 11-month war, but the fighting has entered a slow and exhausting phase as bitter winter weather has set in.
“There has been very little change in terms of the front line, but the enemy’s pressure has intensified, both in number of men and in type and quantity of equipment,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
Zhdanov claimed that the fighting had intensified with Russia’s mobilization of armored vehicles and tanks.
The heaviest fighting has occurred around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to storm for months at enormous cost in human lives, and further north, in the cities of Svatove and Kreminna, where Ukraine is trying to break through Russian defensive lines.
In Bakhmut, where 70,000 people lived before the war and is now in ruins, Reuters reporters saw fires in a large apartment building. The streets were littered with rubble and the windows of most buildings had blown out.
“Our building is destroyed. There was a shop in our building, now it’s gone,” said Oleksandr, 85, adding that he was the only resident left there.
Nearby, Pilaheia, 73, said he had long since become accustomed to “constant explosions.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, describing it as a “special military operation” to “de-Nazify” its neighbor, which he says poses a threat to Russia.
Russia set out to subdue Ukraine within days, but its forces were defeated on the outskirts of the capital, Kiev, in the spring and forced to withdraw from other areas in the autumn.
Putin responded by calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists for the first time since World War II.
RUSSIA RETALIATES FOR PRICE CAP
Putin retaliated on Tuesday against limiting his prices. petroleum imposed by Western countries, stating that Russia will ban oil sales to countries that abide by the cap imposed on December 5.
This limit, unprecedented even in the times of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union, is intended to paralyze Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine, without disrupting markets by actually blocking its oil supply.
Under the limit, oil traders who want to maintain access to Western funding for such crucial aspects of global shipping as insurance must pledge to pay no more than $60 per barrel of Russian oil transported by sea.
That’s close to Russia’s current oil price, but well below the prices at which Russia was able to sell it for much of last year, when windfall energy benefits helped offset the impact of financial sanctions.
Putin’s oil ban decree was presented as a direct response to “unfriendly and contradictory actions of the United States and foreign states and international organizations joining them.”
The ban would halt crude sales to countries participating in the price cap between Feb. 1 and July 1, 2023. The ban on refined petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, would take effect on a date to be set by the Government. Putin would have the authority to overturn the measures in special cases.
Russia is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, behind Saudi Arabia, and any real disruption to its sales would have far-reaching consequences for global energy supply.
A PEACE PLAN
In recent days, Putin has repeatedly expressed his desire for peace talks.
But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made clear that Russia has preconditions, including that Ukraine recognize the forcible conquest of about one-fifth of Ukrainian territory, which Russia says it has annexed.
Ukraine says it would never agree to cede territory.
Zelenskiy has been promoting a 10-point peace plan, discussing it with U.S. President Joe Biden, among others, and urging world leaders to hold a World Peace Summit.
In a speech late Tuesday night, Zelenskiy said a meeting of the military command had “set out the steps to be taken in the near future.”
“We will continue to prepare Ukraine’s armed forces and security for next year. It will be a decisive year. We understand the risks of winter. We understand what needs to be done in the spring,” he said.