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Russia-Ukraine War At A Glance: What We Know On Day 354 Of The Invasion

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had carried out a “massive strike” on critically important energy facilities of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex on Friday. Ukraine’s energy minister, German Galushchenko, has said Russia hit power facilities in six regions with missiles and drones, causing blackouts across most of the country. Three big Ukrainian regions and the capital Kyiv will be able to avoid electricity cuts on Sunday, leading producer DTEK said on Saturday as authorities worked to repair power grids damaged by a major Russian strike. Ukraine’s state-run energy operator Ukrenergo has said the situation in the country’s energy system is challenging but controlled.

Galina Danilchenko, the Russia-installed mayor of the Ukrainian city Melitopol in south-eastern Zaporizhzhia region, said on Saturday one civilian died in overnight shelling of Melitopol by Ukrainian forces. Two people were also injured, she wrote on the Telegram social media app.

First reports indicate that three Russian S-300 missiles hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday night, regional governor Oleh Sinehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “One infrastructure facility was damaged. Information about the victims and the scale of the destruction is being clarified,” he said.

Ukraine’s forces are holding defence along the frontline in Donetsk, including of the besieged town of Bakhmut, with the fiercest battles raging for the cities of Vuhledar and Maryinka, Kyiv’s top military commander said on Saturday. Valerii Zaluzhnyi did not specify where the gains were. He added that Ukrainian forices are trying to “stabilise” the frontline around Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donbas region, which has become the focal point of Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion and of Moscow’s drive to regain battlefield momentum.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, acknowledged that his forces are facing fierce resistance around Bakhmut from Ukrainian defenders. He said it could take two years for Russia to fully control the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, two regions whose capture Moscow has stated as a key goal of the war. “If we have to get to the Dnipro, then it will take about three years,” Prigozhin added, referring to a larger area that would extend to the vast Dnieper River that runs roughly north to south, bisecting Ukraine. Russian forces must capture the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut to proceed with their campaign.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday issued a decree sacking a senior security figure and said separately that his drive to clean up the government would continue. Authorities have dismissed dozens of officials in recent weeks and opened probes as part of a widespread drive against wrongdoing. The European Union says addressing corruption is a requirement for Ukraine joining the 27-member bloc.

Russia is ready for negotiations with Ukraine, but without preconditions, state media have reported the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Vershinin, as saying. In an interview with state-run Zvezda television, Vershinin said it was not Ukraine, but the US and the EU that should make the decision on talks with Russia. Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, who headed the country’s negotiating team in the early phases of the conflict, said “talks are out of the question”.

Russia’s sports minister, Oleg Matytsin, has said Ukraine’s call to ban Russian athletes from the 2024 Paris Olympics was “unacceptable”, state media are reporting. He described the call as “a blatant desire to destroy the unity of international sport and the international Olympic movement”. His remarks came as a group of 35 countries will demand that Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from the 2024 Olympics, according to the Lithuanian sports minister, Jurgita Šiugždinienė.

A proposed resolution for adoption by the UN’s general assembly has underlined the need for peace ensuring Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity”. The draft resolution from supporters of Ukraine, on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is broader and less detailed than Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace plan he announced in November.

Zemfira, one of Russia’s most popular singers, has been placed on a list of “foreign agents” on grounds that she supported Ukraine and criticised Russia’s “special military operation” in that country, according to the Russian justice ministry. The ministry has added several other people to its “foreign agents” list, including opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov, political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, and activists Aleksandra Kazantseva and Tatyana Nazambaeva for “LGBT propaganda”.

Immigration authorities in Argentina are cracking down on Russian women who since the invasion of Ukraine have started travelling to Buenos Aires to give birth in order to gain Argentinian citizenship for their children. The director of Argentina’s immigration office, Florencia Carignano, said on Friday that a judicial investigation has been launched into what she described as a lucrative business that promises Argentinian passports for the Russian parents.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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