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Russia Says Ukraine Drone Hit Nuclear Waste Storage Site 

Russia accused Ukraine of damaging a nuclear waste storage warehouse in a drone attack on the Kursk nuclear power plant and claimed its air defenses shot down eight Ukrainian drones.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that three explosive-laden drones targeted the power plant on Thursday night, striking its administration building and a facility storing nuclear waste. The press service for the Kursk nuclear power plant confirmed the strike Friday, but told journalists there was no significant damage or casualties and that operations were continuing as normal.

Intense fighting has continued around the key city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s air force said it destroyed three of four Iskander cruise missiles over the country’s Dnipropetrovsk region Saturday night.

A dearth of reported aerial attacks this weekend follows several weeks of fierce fighting close to Avdiivka. Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin on Saturday that Russia had lost about 4,000 troops in Avdiivka, according to Kyiv’s Defense Ministry.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also noted Friday that Russia had lost at least a brigade trying to capture Avdiivka. The city’s location gives Ukrainian forces artillery advantages over the city of Donetsk, and it could be used as a springboard to retake the rest of the region.

High price for Avdiivka

Analysts say that weeks of grinding battles in the region have been costly, mostly for Russian troops.

The effort to capture Avdiivka has backfired on the Kremlin’s forces, robbing it of troops and heavy equipment that “will likely undermine Russian offensive capabilities over the long term,” the Institute for the Study of War said in its assessment Thursday.

Satellite images show the Russian military lost at least 109 military vehicles, mostly armored fighting vehicles and tanks, near Avdiivika between October 10 and 20, the institute said.

Russia has “probably committed” up to eight brigades to the fighting around Avdiivka, according to Saturday’s British Defense Ministry’s intelligence report on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ministry said Russia’s fighters “have likely suffered” some of the highest casualty rates this year as they intensify their attacks on the strategically important area.

While Russian political leaders want to seize more of Ukraine’s territory, the update said, Russia’s military “cannot generate effective operational level offensive action.”

Winter campaign

Russian forces are also experiencing morale problems as another winter campaign looms, the White House said.

“We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who refuse to follow orders,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told a press conference on Thursday.

“We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire,” Kirby added, calling the practice “barbaric.”

Moscow denied those reports, with Russian diplomats dismissing them Friday as lies.

“Whoever came up with these other-worldly lies could only have been a person with an imagination far into overdrive,” the Russian Embassy in Washington said in comments carried by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Also on Friday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy examined the readiness and accessibility of Ukraine’s bomb shelters. He said in his daily address that a complete review of all the country’s shelters has been conducted.

He said there is a website where people can view shelters across the country and the progress of shelter-related work.

“Most regions are taking shelter-related matters more seriously,” Zelenskyy said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian pro-Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tsaryov was shot twice and seriously wounded late Thursday night in Russian-annexed Crimea where he lives, his family and Russian officials said Friday.

Russia’s top investigative body said it had opened a criminal inquiry into the attempt on his life, the latest in a series of attacks since the start of the war on several prominent pro-Moscow figures.

Tsaryov was found unconscious and bleeding. A Russian-installed official in southern Ukraine, Vladimir Rogov, said he is in intensive care. The pro-Russian former Ukrainian lawmaker was lined up to lead a puppet administration in Kyiv if Russia succeeded in occupying Kyiv, Reuters reported, citing sources in Moscow.

The shooting of Tsaryov was a special operation conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, a source in the Ukrainian intelligence agency said Friday. There was no official comment immediately available from Ukrainian intelligence.

Source : Voa