Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have met fierce resistance, as Moscow keeps pounding civilian infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians in cold and darkness amid severe power disruptions as temperatures plunge.
The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said early on November 19 that the Russian military launched 10 air strikes and 10 missile strikes over the previous day, also carrying out 42 rocket attacks on civilian infrastructure and causing damage in the southern city of Zaporizhzhya.
“The enemy continues to strike critical infrastructure and civilian homes, violating international humanitarian law as well as laws and customs of war. Civilian infrastructure objectives in Zaporizhzhya were hit by a missile,” the General Staff said in its morning report, without giving further details.
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The Zaporizhzhya region hosts Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which has been under Russian occupation since the start of Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February.
The secretary of Zaporizhzhya’s local council said there may be people under the rubble of an infrastructure facility that was hit by Russian missiles late on November 18.
The secretary, Anatoliy Kurtev, said via Telegram that five “incoming” blasts had been recorded and rescuers were on the scene.
“A fire broke out as a result of an enemy attack. There may be people under the rubble right now,” he said. “Ordinary, peaceful people who were simply at work at that time and who posed absolutely no threat to the Kremlin henchmen.”
The Ukrainian military successfully repelled six Russian attacks in the Donbas, while Kyiv’s air force launched seven strikes on areas of concentration of Russian personnel in the east, the General Staff said.
The Russians “are conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and Novopavliv directions,” it said, adding that Ukrainian forces repelled waves of attacks in Donetsk, mainly in the areas of Bilohoryivka, Zelenopil, and Klishchiyivka.
Ukrainian forces also hit and destroyed a key military base on the Kinburn Spit, which is attached to the Kinburn Peninsula in the Black Sea, the military said.
The Kinburn Spit was first captured by the Russians in June and has remained one of the last occupied territories in southern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military said the sandy area had been the “focus of enemy’s life force, weapons, and equipment.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on November 18 that “brutal fighting” continued in the east, but suggested that in some areas they expect “future successes.”
He said that “everywhere we are holding [our] positions.”
RFE/RL cannot verify reports of battlefield success in areas of intense fighting.
“Very fierce fighting is continuing in Donetsk region,” Zelenskiy said, adding that “there is no letup in the fighting. There has been no lull.”
He didn’t elaborate on his reference to expected “future successes” in some areas of the battlefield.
Ukrainian forces have recently reported slower gains than in the past two months, and Russian missile attacks on power infrastructure all over the country have left around 10 million Ukrainians without power and natural gas as temperatures plummet on the cusp of the cold season.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on November 18 that nearly 50 percent of the country’s energy infrastructure had been disabled by Russian strikes.
“Almost half of our energy system is out of order,” Shmyhal said.
Officials have said stretched repair teams are working at maximum capacity to try to return power but that land mines, further attacks, and other obstacles are slowing their progress.
Zelenskiy also repeated recent calls for new sanctions against Russia in a video message to Irish students earlier in the day.
“A new European sanctions package is needed,” Zelenskiy said, according to dpa. “Russian aggression does not stop for a single day. Just as Russian lies to the world never stop. Therefore, for all this, the international pressure on Russia should not stop for a single day.”