Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Russia has focused its attacks on areas it illegally annexed in its increasingly beleaguered incursion into Ukraine, as the death toll from an earlier missile strike on an apartment complex in the southern city of Zaporozhye rose to 12 people.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin and his actions in the worst armed conflict in Europe since World War II Human rights groups in his country and Ukraine, as well as an activist jailed in Russia’s ally Belarus.
Commission chairman Berritt Rice-Anderson said the honor went to “three outstanding defenders of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence.”
Putin illegally claimed this week Four regions of Ukraine are Russian territory, including the Zaporozhye region, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, where reactors were shut down last month.
Fighting near the Russian-occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant alarmed the United Nations atomic energy watchdog, which on Friday doubled the number of inspectors overseeing safeguards at the plant to four. Ukrainian Environmental Protection Minister Ruslan Strilets said on Friday that accidents there could have released 10 times as much potentially deadly radiation than the world’s worst nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, 36 years ago. .
“Russian forces occupying, shelling and exploiting the Chernobyl and Zaporozhye nuclear power plants are having global consequences,” Stryles told The Associated Press.
The city of Zaporozhye is 53 kilometers (33 miles) from the nuclear power plant as crows fly over and remain under Ukrainian control. Russian troops bombed the city with S-300 missiles on Thursday in an effort to cement Russian sovereignty over the region, and more attacks were reported on Friday.
The death toll from Friday’s attack on an apartment building rose to 12, Ukrainian authorities said, with 12 others injured in the blast remaining in hospital.
Missiles also hit the city overnight, injuring one person, the governor of Zaporozhye province. Oleksandr Starukh said. Russia also used an Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone there for the first time and damaged two infrastructure, he said.
As its forces are overrun by Ukraine in counteroffensives in the south and east, Russia has fielded unmanned, one-off Iranian-made drones that are cheaper and less sophisticated than missiles but can still disrupt ground targets.
The Washington-based Institute for War Research said Russia’s use of explosive-laden drones was unlikely to affect the course of the war.
“They used many drones in the rear against civilian targets, possibly hoping to create a nonlinear effect through terror. This effort was unsuccessful,” analysts at the think tank wrote.
In other areas annexed by Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Friday that its forces had repelled a Ukrainian offensive near the city of Lehman and recaptured three villages elsewhere in eastern Donetsk. The ministry also claimed that Russian troops blocked the advance of Ukrainian troops towards several villages in the southern Kherson region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Friday that this week alone, his army has recaptured 776 square kilometers (300 square miles) of territory and 29 settlements in the east, including those annexed by Putin. 6 settlements in the Luhansk region. In total, Ukrainian forces have liberated 2,434 square kilometers (940 square miles) of land and 96 settlements since the start of the counteroffensive, he said.
In Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, Russian troops shelled the city of Nikopol overnight, killing one person, injuring another and damaging buildings, gas pipelines and power systems, according to the region’s governor. Nikopol is located along the Dnieper River, opposite Russian-controlled territory and close to a nuclear power plant. The city has been shelled continuously for weeks.
The signs of destruction and death in areas where Russian troops were withdrawing became clearer on Friday. Since September 1, the bodies of 530 civilians have been found in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, according to a report by Yevhen Yenin, First Deputy Minister of the Interior of Ukraine. 7.
Ye Nin said the residents killed during the Russian occupation included 257 men, 225 women and 19 children, 29 of whom were unidentified. Most of the bodies were found in a previously disclosed mass grave in the city of Izium.
According to Ye Ning, the bodies found showed signs of shooting, explosions and torture. Some had ropes wrapped around their necks, hands tied behind their backs, bullet wounds to their knees and broken ribs.
Authorities have identified 22 torture sites in parts of the Kharkiv region recently liberated by the Ukrainian army, regional police official Shershi Bolvinov said.
At the same time, some Russian military equipment and weapons are entering the hands of the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian forces have seized at least 440 tanks and about 650 armoured vehicles since Russia’s February 2 invasion, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said on Friday. twenty four.
“The failure of Russian aircrews to destroy complete equipment prior to evacuation or surrender underlines their poor training and low levels of combat discipline,” the MoD said. “As Russian formations are under severe stress in multiple sectors , and with troop morale getting lower and lower, Russia may continue to lose heavy weapons.”
Putin last month ordered the partial mobilization of Russian reservists to strengthen manpower on the Ukrainian front. Mistakes have plagued military drafting, however, with thousands fleeing Russia unwilling to fight Putin’s war.
This leaves Russia in desperate need of reinforcements. The Ukrainian military said on Friday it had mobilized 500 ex-convicts to strengthen Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, where Ukrainian troops have recaptured parts of their territory. Officials from law enforcement are directing the new units, the military said.
A court in the Russian city of Penza has dismissed the first case against a Russian man who was called up to the army but was turned down, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Friday. Lawyers for the 32-year-old man have argued that the law charging him applies only to those who evade conscription, not those who were partially mobilized.
In another sign of trouble, there were reports that the new Russian army was under-trained and under-supplied. There are at least two Russian cities – St. St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod — They announced Friday that they will cancel New Year’s and Christmas celebrations in Russia and divert the money to buy supplies for the Russian military.
Under mounting pressure from his own supporters and critics, Putin has continued to reshuffle his army leadership, appointing a new commander in Russia’s eastern military district.
Associated Press writer Hanna Arhirova in Ukraine contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine