Two first responders have been killed by rocket attacks in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine.
Ukrainian police said Russia fired a series of rockets at the village of Komyshuvakha, close to the frontline in Zaporizhzhia, which Russia annexed last year.
“As a result of the first two strikes, four local residents were injured and a fire broke out in a residential building,” they said.
“When the police and rescuers arrived at the scene, Russians conducted another strike. Two emergency service workers were killed and three more were injured.”
Russia carried out a major drone attack on Ukraine on Friday night, hitting infrastructure facilities and causing power outages in more than 400 towns and villages in the south, south-east and north of the country, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukraine air defences shot down 29 out of 38 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched from Russian territory, the air force said, according to Reuters. One of the drones that got through struck an energy infrastructure facility in the southern Odesa region, leaving 2,000 homes without power.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops were working to push back Russian forces positioned on the east bank of the Dnipro River on Saturday, the military said.
It came a day after Ukraine claimed to have secured multiple bridgeheads on the side of the river that divides the country’s partly occupied Kherson region.
Ukraine’s establishment of footholds on the Russian-held bank of the Dnipro represents a small but potentially significant strategic advance in the midst of a war largely at a standstill. The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said its troops had repelled 12 attacks by the Russian army between Friday and Saturday.
The Ukrainians now were trying to “push back Russian army units as far as possible in order to make life easier for the [western] bank of the Kherson region, so that they get shelled less”, said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern operational command.
In response, the Russian military had used “tactical aviation”, including Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones, to try to pin down Ukraine’s troops, Humeniuk said.
The wide river is a natural dividing line along the southern battlefront. Since withdrawing from the city of Kherson and retreating across the Dnipro a year ago, Moscow’s forces have regularly shelled communities on the Ukrainian-held side of the river to prevent soldiers from advancing toward Russia-annexed Crimea.
Elsewhere, hundreds of people gathered in Kyiv to oppose corruption and to demand the reallocation of public funds to the armed forces. The demonstration was the 10th in a series of protests in Kyiv amid anger over municipal projects.
On Saturday, protesters held Ukrainian flags and banners bearing slogans such as “We need drones not stadiums”.
“I’ve organised demonstrations in more than 100 cities protesting against corruption in Ukraine and for more money, which should go to the army,” said Maria Barbash, an activist with the organisation Money for the Armed Forces. “The first priority of our budget – local budgets and the central budget – should be the army.”
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has called on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to take the first step towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
“He must withdraw troops,” Scholz said during a visit to Nuthetal in Brandenburg state.
However, there were no signs of this happening, he said in response to a question about whether peace negotiations were possible.
Putin must not succeed in his goal of using force to annex parts of a neighbouring country, Scholz said.
The chancellor once again assured Ukraine of Germany’s help in its defence against the Russian invasion for as long as necessary