Fierce fighting along Ukraine frontline as UN rebukes Russia over flood response

Death toll after destruction of Moscow-controlled dam reaches 52, Ukrainian and Russian authorities say

Ukraine said its troops were attacking Moscow’s forces in the south and conducting some defensive operations in the east, as the Kremlin claimed that security concerns were behind its refusal to allow the United Nations to conduct flood relief work in Russian-occupied territory.

The Ukrainian military published footage of its troops in the village of Piatykhatky in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, and said it was the eighth settlement to be freed since Kyiv launched its counteroffensive this month.

“In the south, during the past week, there was an offensive in several directions…The liberated area in the south is 113 sq km,” said Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar.

“The situation in the east is now difficult. The enemy drew up its forces for an active offensive in the Lyman and Kupyansk directions, trying to seize the initiative from us…Fierce battles continue,” she added.


“This is now the enemy’s main offensive line. Therefore, it has concentrated a significant number of units in the east, in particular airborne assault units. Our soldiers act bravely in the face of the enemy’s superiority in terms of numbers and resources, and do not allow the enemy to advance.”

The defence ministry in Moscow said its troops were fending off all Ukraine’s attacks and bombing its supply lines and stores of western-supplied weapons. It did not mention any of the villages that Ukraine has retaken, including Piatykhatky, which a Kremlin-installed official in Zaporizhzhia region admitted was lost by Russia on Sunday.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked his military and listed several units that he said had distinguished themselves in operations over the last week. “Our troops are advancing, position by position, step by step, we are moving forward,” he said. “Russia will lose the occupied territories. There is no and will be no alternative to our steps towards de-occupation.”

Water levels continued to fall in Kherson and Mykolaiv regions almost two weeks after the destruction of a huge Russian-controlled dam on the Dnipro river caused floods that left dozens of people dead and missing, and forced thousands from their homes.

Ukraine claims Russia blew up the dam and international experts say that is by far the most likely cause of a disaster that will have a decades-long impact on the environment of southeastern Ukraine.

Kyiv, and Ukrainians who escaped occupied territory during the flood, have accused Moscow of doing little to help people in inundated areas of occupied territory, and of favouring those who had accepted Russian passports.

“The government of the Russian Federation has so far declined our request to access the areas under its temporary military control,” said Denise Brown, UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Ukraine. “We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law. Aid cannot be denied to people who need it.”

It was a rare direct rebuke of Russia from the UN, and came after Ukraine repeatedly urged international agencies to do more in response to the disaster.

“There are a lot of issues there,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response.

“How to cross where the line of contact is and ensure security - you know there is constant shelling there, constant provocations, civilian sites and people being shelled, people dying,” he said. “That’s why it’s very difficult…and there are many other nuances.”

Meanwhile, the British government has announced new legislation to allow sanctions to remain on Russian firms and citizens until Moscow pays compensation to Ukraine for its invasion.

Sanctioned Russians will also be allowed to donate frozen funds to the reconstruction of Ukraine, but there will be “no coercion…nor any offer of sanctions relief in return for making a donation,” Downing Street said.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe