The war between Russia and Ukraine “enters a new phase” amid battles over nuclear power plants


Fighting raged around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant (Image: Reuters)

The war in Ukraine “is about to enter a new phase” as both armies prepare for renewed fighting, British military intelligence has warned.

The battle lines are being redrawn as Russia prepares for defense forces to escalate efforts to retake the country to the south.

The Defense Ministry’s warning comes amid battles over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

A new 217-mile front stretching southwest from near Zaporizhzhia, where the giant nuclear facility is located, to Kherson parallel to the Dnieper appears to be the scene of fierce clashes.

Both countries have accused each other of shelling that could trigger a meltdown at the nuclear power plant, the largest of its kind.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed it was just luck that a radiation accident was avoided after what it described as artillery fire.

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Moscow was responsible and accused it of committing “an open, brazen crime, an act of terrorism”.

A soldier with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

War in Ukraine shifts south as Russia is left behind by Ukrainian counter-offensives (Image: Reuters)

It is not the first time fighting has erupted around a nuclear facility since the attack began in February, but there are fears it could increase as the war shifts to the region where it is located.

Russian forces are almost certainly gathering in southern Ukraine in anticipation of a counteroffensive or in preparation for a possible attack, the Defense Ministry said.

Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, towed artillery and other weapons have been evacuated from the Donbass region and are heading southwest.

Battalion Tactical Groups (BTG), numbering between 800 and 1,000 troops, have been deployed in Crimea and would almost certainly be deployed in support of Russian troops in the Kherson region, the update said.

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Ukrainian forces are focusing their attacks on bridges, ammunition depots and railway links with increasing frequency in its southern regions, including the strategically important railway linking Kherson with Russian-held Crimea.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Ukraine’s switch to offensive maneuvers has forced Russia to change course.

The Kremlin has increasingly moved personnel and equipment from the Donbass to southern Ukraine in order to push back a Ukrainian counter-offensive around the occupied port city of Kherson.

These attempts to secure Kherson come “at the expense of (Russian) efforts to capture Sloviansk… which they appear to have abandoned,” the institute’s analysts said.

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Justin Scacco

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