In the east of Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian troops fought heavy battles. Russian troops continued their advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donbass on Saturday, while Ukrainian troops shelled a number of Russian-held towns. Explosions were also reported from Crimea, when Russian anti-aircraft defenses became active there for reasons that have not yet been specified.
"Donbass is the main front in the struggle for Ukraine's independence," Serhiy Cherevatyy, spokesman for Army Group East of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on television on Saturday. The focus of the fighting was therefore the traffic junction of Bakhmut and the small town of Avdiivka. "The enemy has changed their tactics," Cherevaty said. Instead of attacks by larger units, there were now attacks by smaller groups, above all by the "Wagner" mercenary unit, supported by barrel and rocket artillery. "We analyze this tactic and find an antidote for every military poison."
The Russian military had previously reported on its offensive in the region. "In the Donetsk area, the Russian units continued their attacks and drove the enemy out of their fortified positions," army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow on Saturday. Positions were also seized in the north between the small towns of Kreminna and Lyman. The information could not be verified independently. Reports have been circulating for weeks that the Ukrainian army is on the defensive in the Donetsk region, trying to hold its defense lines in front of the industrial city of Donetsk and east of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk conurbation.
Ukrainian forces fired rocket launchers at Donetsk several times on Saturday, according to Russian authorities. The bus station in the center and a school were also hit, the Russian state agency Tass reported. Donetsk is the largest city in the region of the same name, which was declared an independent people's republic by Moscow-backed separatists. In the meantime, Moscow has annexed the area in violation of international law. Russia attacked the neighboring country at the end of February.
According to initial reports, two people were killed and two others injured in an attack by Ukrainian artillery on the city of Melitopol in south-eastern Ukraine, which was occupied by Russian troops. According to Tass, the representative of the occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, said that a restaurant was hit during the attack. According to his account, several projectiles had been fired at the city from a Himars rocket launcher. A convalescent home was also hit.
In the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian troops, air defenses were activated on Saturday evening, according to military information. There were reports of air defense deployments from both Simferopol in Crimea and Melitopol in south-eastern Ukraine, Tass reported. Local residents reported numerous detonations in the sky on social media. There was no information about the nature of the possible attack or its impact.
Meanwhile, Russian attacks with "Kamikaze drones" have caused massive power outages in the port city of Odessa. "Odessa and other cities and villages in the region are in darkness after the night-time attack by Iranian drones," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his daily video message on Saturday. More than 1.5 million people in the region are currently without electricity.
Only facilities such as hospitals and maternity wards are still supplied with electricity, said the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, on the Telegram messenger service. The situation is "difficult but under control".