Russian attacks have turned the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut into “burnt ruins”, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said, while Ukraine’s military has reported missile, rocket and drone attacks in multiple parts of the country that have killed civilians and destroyed critical infrastructure.
Zelenskyy said on Saturday that the situation “remains very difficult” in several front-line cities in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
“Bakhmut, Soledar, Maryinka, Kreminna. For a long time, there is no living place left on the land of these areas that have not been damaged by shells and fire,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, naming cities that have again found themselves under sustained Russian barrages.
“The occupiers actually destroyed Bakhmut, another Donbas city that the Russian army turned into burned ruins,” he said.
Zelenskyy also said that more than 1.5 million people were without power in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa after a night attack by drones.
“After the night strike by Iranian drones, Odesa and other cities and villages of the region are in darkness,” Zelenskyy said.
“As of now, more than one and a half million people in Odesa region are without electricity.”
Ukraine’s military on Saturday also reported raids in other provinces: Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, central Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia in the southeast and Kherson in the south.
Approximately 20 air attacks and more than 60 rocket attacks hit targets across Ukraine between Friday and Saturday, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff reported earlier.
Writing on Telegram, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said two civilians died, and another eight were wounded during dozens of mortar, rocket and artillery attacks over the previous day. Residential areas, a hospital, shops, warehouses and critical infrastructure in the Kherson region were damaged, he said.
To the west, the overnight drone attack left much of Odesa province, including its namesake Black Sea port city, without electricity when several energy facilities were destroyed at once, leaving all customers except hospitals, maternity homes, boiler plants and pumping stations without power, electric company DTEK said Saturday.
The Odesa regional administration’s energy department said late Saturday that fully restoring electricity could take as long as three months, and it urged families whose homes are without power to leave the region if possible.
‘Most active fighting’ – Bakhmut
The spokesperson for Ukraine’s General Staff, Oleksandr Shtupun, said the most active fighting was in the Bakhmut district, where more than 20 populated places came under Russian fire.
Russia has battered Bakhmut with rockets for more than half of the year, but some analysts have questioned Russia’s strategic logic in the relentless pursuit to take Bakhmut and surrounding areas that also came under intense shelling in the past weeks, and where Ukrainian officials reported that some residents who remained in the area were living in basements.
“The costs associated with six months of brutal, grinding, and attrition-based combat around #Bakhmut far outweigh any operational advantage that the #Russians can obtain from taking Bakhmut,” the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington, DC, posted on its Twitter feed on Thursday.
The Institute also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to frame stalled discussions as a way of “separating Ukraine from its Western supporters by portraying Kyiv as unwilling to compromise or even to engage in serious talks” to bring peace.
Putin is both warning that he is preparing for a lengthy war in Ukraine while also claiming that Russia is open to peace negotiations.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) December 10, 2022
The Russian Defence Ministry said Saturday that its troops also pressed their Donbas offensive in the direction of the Donetsk city of Lyman, which is 65km (40 miles) north of Bakhmut.