Key developments on Sept. 19
- Russian missile strike hits nuclear plant in Mykolaiv Oblast
- Governor says Ukraine recaptured a village in occupied Luhansk Oblast
- 146 bodies exhumed so far at Izium’s mass burial site
Ukraine appears to have made a breakthrough in occupied Luhansk Oblast.
While Russia still controls the majority of the easternmost region, Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Sept. 19 that Ukraine had liberated the village of Bilohorivka.
The village is located on the oblast’s border, approximately 15 kilometers west of Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian holdout in Luhansk Oblast that Russia captured on July 3.
“Bilohorivka has been cleared and is completely under the control of (Ukraine’s) Armed Forces,” Haidai said on Telegram.
The status of Bilohorivka has not been confirmed by the military yet.
Despite the anticipation of Ukraine’s further advance in the occupied region, Haidai warned that liberating Luhansk Oblast will be “much more difficult” than Kharkiv Oblast. Fierce fighting is expected as Russia strengthens its defense in the region but “we are preparing,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported that 146 bodies have been exhumed from the mass burial site in liberated Izium. He added that most of them were civilians including two children. Some of the exhumed bodies had signs of torture, according to the governor, while others also had shrapnel and stab wounds.
In Ukraine’s south, Russian forces launched a missile strike on a nuclear power plant in Mykolaiv Oblast. Fragments of the missiles fell within 270 meters of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine’s state nuclear agency Energoatom said.
More than 100 windows of the plant’s building were damaged due to the attack but no casualties were reported, according to Energatom. The three power lines were temporarily disconnected from the grid but they are currently operating normally, it reported.
Amid heightening concerns by the latest Russian attack near Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear facility, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the world “to stop” Russia before it is too late.
“Russia endangers the whole world,” Zelensky said.
Russia’s mass fire along front line
Russian forces had bombarded Donetsk Oblast, a region neighboring Luhansk Oblast, with tanks, mortars and artillery, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military reported on Sept. 19.
Russian forces massed fire in the directions of Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka in the region, according to the report. Donetsk Oblast remains the Kremlin’s key target after capturing Luhansk Oblast.
In the south, the front line situation remains “dynamic, tense, but controlled” amid the ongoing counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast, the Southern Operational Command said.
Moscow’s troops are trying to attack some undisclosed areas along the front line in Kherson Oblast while launching missile and artillery strikes on Ukraine’s military positions, according to the command.
Earlier on Sept. 18, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S. defense think tank, said that Ukraine’s continuing attacks on Russia’s supply line to the western side of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast are showing increasing effects.
Russia appears to be forced into “more defensible positions” and attempting to slow Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts, the ISW said.
Rebuilding Kharkiv Oblast
Izium residents are gradually returning to their homes following the liberation of the city, according to its mayor Valerii Marchenko.
“Not en masse, but people are starting to come back,” Marchenko said on TV.
Many residents won’t be able to return yet because their homes have been destroyed and it will take some time for the city to recover after enduring a six-month-long Russian occupation, according to Marchenko.
Critical infrastructure in Izium is still “almost completely damaged,” according to the mayor. He said that repairing utilities in residential buildings will not be easy. While electricity will likely come back on in less than two weeks, he explained that the restoration of the gas supply – crucial for winter – is expected to be a challenge.
Life in newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast remains unpredictable with Russian forces continuing to indiscriminately shell residential areas in the region.
Explosives found in the liberated areas have led to civilian casualties. According to governor Syniehubov, six civilians were blown up by mines in the region on Sept. 19. All of them were hospitalized, the official reported.
Syniehubov said settlements located along the front line, as well as those close to the Russian border, came under fire on Sept. 19.
An 11-year-old boy was wounded in Kupiansk, a recaptured city situated on the banks of the Oskil River, and an elderly woman was hospitalized with injuries in the Chuhuiv district, southeast of Kharkiv.
In eastern Donetsk Oblast, another three people were killed and eight people were wounded, according to the region’s governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Russia’s artillery, airstrike and missile strike onslaught on Donetsk Oblast continues, with Avdiivka near the occupied city of Donetsk coming under incessant fire, according to the governor.
In central Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a 58-year-old woman was injured by Russia’s shelling of the city of Zelenodolsk, the region’s governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.