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Russia, Ukraine give conflicting Zaporizhzhia frontline accounts

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Russia and Ukraine gave clashing accounts over the weekend about what is going on along the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region, with Moscow saying it has stopped Kyiv’s counter-offensive and Ukraine’s army saying it keeps pressing on.

Ukraine has retaken a few small villages in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region since the start of its counter-offensive in June, but progress has been small and the vast frontline in the country’s east and south has changed little over the past year.

“The enemy has been stopped and their counter-offensive, which has been so hyped, has been completely halted,” Yevgeny Balitsky, the top Moscow-installed official in the Zaporizhzhia region, told the Russian state news agency in remarks published on Monday (6 November).

Balitsky said that small battles were ongoing near the village of Robotyne and near the village of Shcherbaky, which is about 22 km to the northwest.

With both sides controlling the spread of battlefield information and claiming successes in small parcels of land, it has been difficult to establish who has been making meaningful advances and how fierce the fighting has been.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Sunday evening that Russian forces made several unsuccessful assaults near Robotyne and Verbove, a village a few km (miles) east of it.

The Russian defence ministry said in its daily briefing on Sunday that Russian forces have repelled Ukraine’s attacks near Verbove and Robotyne.

But analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think-tank said that Ukraine made “limited advances west of Verbove.”

Ukraine’s General Stuff also said that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Melitopol direction, in the western Zaporizhzhia region, “exhausting the enemy all along the frontline” there.

Russia said over the weekend its air defence forces repelled Ukrainian air attacks there.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied over the weekend that the war with Russia was at a “stalemate” after his Commander-in-chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi said the conflict was moving towards static and attritional fighting.

Russian drone attack on Odesa

Russian drone attacks on Odesa late on Sunday evening left at least five people injured, set trucks with grain on fire and damaged one of the city’s principal art galleries, Ukrainian officials in the Black Sea port said.

“On 6 November the Odesa National Art Museum turns 124 years old,” Oleh Kiper, governor of the Odesa region, of which the Odesa city is the administrative centre, said on the Telegram messaging app. “On the eve of 6 November, the Russians ‘congratulated’ our architectural monument with a missile that hit nearby.”

#Odesa art museum today after russian missile and drone attack on city. Pictures of outside damage are yet to come, but it’s known already that the roadway near the museum gate is destroyed, as well as tram tracks, sidewalk, electricity poles. And the water pipe for broken- there… pic.twitter.com/VsicuPivj7

— Julia Gorodetskaya (@gorodetskaya) November 5, 2023

The walls of the building were damaged, some windows and glass were broken, he said.

Kipper later said that 15 Russia-launched drones were destroyed over the city. Several high-rise residential buildings were damaged and warehouse and trucks with grain caught fire, which was promptly extinguished.

It was not clear whether the buildings and the trucks were hit by the drones or falling debris. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

The Odesa National Art Museum, in one of the oldest palaces of Odesa, housed more than 10,000 pieces of art before the war, including paintings by some of the best-known Russian and Ukrainian artists of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The Odesa city council published a video showing blown out windows and debris inside what it said was the art museum.

On the street near the museum, the attack left a several-meter deep hole. According to the city authorities, one person was injured there.

Kiper said that all five of the injured, from around the city, were hospitalised.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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