Ukraine says fighting 'deadlocked' ahead of visit by U.N. chief

Ukraine says fighting
# 18 August 2022 14:28 (UTC +04:00)

Ukrainian forces said on Thursday they had beaten back a Russian attack in the southern region of Kherson. In contrast, the death toll from the Russian shelling of Kharkiv city in Ukraine's northeast climbed as the nearly six-month war grinds on without let-up, APA reports citing Reuters.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan later on Thursday in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

They will discuss ways to find a political solution to the war and address the threat to global food supplies and the risk of a disaster at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which has been taken over by Russian forces.

The war has forced millions to flee, killed thousands, and deepened a geopolitical rift between the West and Russia, which says its operation aims to demilitarise its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities.

"Russian forces have achieved only minimal advances, and in some cases, we have advanced, since last month," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video.

"What we are seeing is a 'strategic deadlock.'"

Russian bombardment of a residential area of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, on Wednesday evening killed seven people and wounded 16, the Ukrainian Emergencies Service said.

"This is a devious and cynical strike on civilians with no justification," Zelenskiy said on the Telegram messaging app.

One person was killed and 18 were wounded on Thursday in pre-dawn shelling of another residential area of Kharkiv, Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor said.

The south district of the Operational Command of the Ukrainian armed forces said Ukrainian forces killed 29 "occupiers" near the town of Bilohirka, northeast of Kherson, as well as destroying artillery, armoured vehicles and a military supply depot.

Reuters was not able to independently confirm the battlefield reports.

Fighting around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has raised fears of a catastrophe, and Guterres has said he wants a demilitarised zone established.

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he had spoken to the director general of the International Atomic Agency, who was ready to lead a delegation to the plant.

"I emphasized the mission's urgency to address nuclear security threats caused by Russia's hostilities," he said on Twitter.

Russia's defense ministry accused Ukraine of planning a "provocation" at the plant on Friday while Guterres was visiting Ukraine, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported.

The two sides have exchanged accusations of shelling near the plant but the Russian ministry said its forces had no heavy weapons there or in nearby districts.