MOSCOW: The Russian military said on Tuesday that the situation for its troops on the ground in Ukraine was “tense” in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, after several major setbacks in the east and south.
“The situation in the area of the special military operation can be described as tense. The enemy is not abandoning its attempts to attack Russian troop positions,” Gen Sergey Surovikin, who has been in charge of operations in Ukraine for the past 10 days, told state television Rossiya 24.
Ukrainian forces mounted a counter-offensive in the south towards the end of the summer and have been pushing closer and closer to the city of Kherson, which is occupied by Moscow.
Russia’s army is preparing to evacuate civilians from the city, the commander for Ukraine operations said on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Russian military said it had recaptured territory in the eastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine, the first gains in that area since Moscow’s forces were pushed back in the sweeping counter-offensive.
Ukraine warned on Tuesday of an emerging “critical” risk to its power grid after President Volodymyr Zelensky said that repeated Russian bombardments had destroyed one-third of the country’s power facilities as winter approaches.
The warning came as Russian forces claimed to have retaken territory from Ukrainian troops in the eastern Kharkiv region, Moscow’s first announced capture of a village there since being nearly entirely pushed out of the region last month.
At the same time, Russian attacks rocked energy facilities in Kyiv and urban centres across the country, causing blackouts and disrupting water supplies, one day after the capital was bombarded with a swarm of suicide drones.
“The situation is critical now across the country. It’s necessary for the whole country to prepare for electricity, water and heating outages,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, told Ukrainian television.
The strikes in the early hours of Tuesday hit Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Mykolaiv in the south and central regions of Dnipro and Zhytomyr, where officials said hospitals were running on backup generators.
But drones also bombarded Kyiv on Monday — the second in a row — leaving five dead, officials said, in what the presidency described as an attack of desperation after a string of battlefield losses.
Zelensky called the repeated targeting of energy infrastructure “another kind of Russian terrorist attacks”.