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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that Ukrainian troops have recaptured several settlements in the Kharkiv region in the country’s northeast. Meanwhile, shelling resumed near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a day after the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency pressed for a safe zone there to prevent catastrophe. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2). 

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2:50am: Ukraine hails advances in the east

Ukraine remained guarded about its counter-offensive in the east but presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych, in a video posted on YouTube, said Ukrainian troops had surprised Russian defenders at Balakleiia.

“The Russians are saying that Balakleiia is encircled when in fact (our troops) have gone much further … they’ve cut off the road to Kupiansk,” he said, referring to the main transport hub supplying Russian forces in Izyum to the east. Yuri Podolyak, a Ukrainian often quoted by pro-Russian officials, also said Russian troops were surprised by the Ukrainian advance.

But another pro-Russian official from the region, Rodion Miroshnik, said on Telegram that Balakleiia remained in Russian hands although there was fighting north of the town. FRANCE 24 is unable to verify the claims.

“The enemy had considerable success near Balakleiia with a relatively small force … It would appear that Russian forces slept through this advance and were expecting it elsewhere,” he wrote on Telegram.

“Everything would seem to depend now on the speed with which reserves are brought into the fight … there have been significant losses.”

Asked about the war’s progress at the forum in Vladivostok, Putin said: “We have not lost anything and will not lose anything.”

12:04am: Shelling resumes near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Shelling resumed near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with the warring sides trading blame again on Wednesday, a day after the UN atomic watchdog agency pressed for a safe zone there to prevent a catastrophe.

Russian forces fired rockets and heavy artillery on the city of Nikopol, on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River from Europe’s largest nuclear plant, regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said.

“There are fires, blackouts and other things at the (plant) that force us to prepare the local population for the consequences of the nuclear danger,” Reznichenko said. Officials in recent days have distributed iodine pills to residents to help protect them in the event of a radiation leak.

In Enerhodar, where the power plant is located, Dmytro Orlov, the pre-occupation mayor, reported the city had come under Russian attack for a second time Wednesday and was without power. “Employees of communal and other services simply do not have time to complete emergency and restoration work, as another shelling reduces their work to zero,” he said on the Telegram messaging app. The Russian side blamed the Ukrainians.

Earlier: Russia threatens to halt energy supplies to Europe

Putin said in a speech on Wednesday to an economic forum in Russia’s Far East that Russia would not lose what he calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

He threatened to halt all supplies of energy to Europe if Brussels went ahead with its proposed price cap on Russian gas, the latest Western step to deprive the Kremlin of funds to finance the war.

“We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything” if that occurs, he said. Europe usually imports about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.

The United States and France says Moscow is already using energy as a “weapon” to weaken Europe’s opposition to its invasion, with the main conduit for Russian gas into Europe, Nord Stream 1, shut for maintenance.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © Studio graphique France Médias Monde

 

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AP and AFP)

 

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