- Strike on nuclear plant hurts 20, knocks out radiation monitors and power
- New Republican leader in House has “very poor” record on Ukraine aid
- Russians continue to gain in Avdiivka but have paid a huge price
- Steady increase in AFU operations reported on east bank of Dnipro River
- Drone production to climb to “dozens of thousands” per month, minister says
Zelensky says the Khmelnitsky nuclear plant was “likely” the intentional target of Russian drone attack
On Wednesday, a drone attack around the nuclear power plant in Slavuta in the western region of Khmelnitsky injured 20 people, the Energy Ministry and other government sources reported, damaging infrastructure and knocking out power lines that served local residents.
In his nightly address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the nuclear power plant was “most likely” the target of the Russian drones.
“This strike near a nuclear power facility serves as another reminder to all of our partners of the importance of strengthening Ukraine's air defense,” Zelensky said, “and the dangers that exist when Russia has ways to circumvent global sanctions.
“Many of the components used by Russian terrorists in their combat drones come from various foreign companies, including Western ones. This is why the effectiveness of sanctions practically means the defense against terrorism.”
The nuclear plant sits about halfway between Kyiv and Lviv, which is a very long way from the front lines.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, said the blast did not destroy the plant’s operational capability, nor did it pose a threat of radiation leaks, but that some off-site radiation-monitoring stations did lose power, as did the grid connecting more than 1,000 residents in nearby towns.
Ukraine’s air defense systems shot down 11 incoming drones in the area on Wednesday, Zelensky and military sources said, and claimed that the explosions at the plant were caused by the detonation of the drones by Ukrainian artillery and the resulting falling debris.
Overnight, Russian drones attacked the city of Slavuta in the Khmelnitskyi region. We have shot them down, but their fragments shattered windows, doors, and roofs. Two dozen residents were harmed. They received necessary assistance.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 25, 2023
The Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant, however,… pic.twitter.com/qt7YnVbQmZ
BREAKING: Massive explosions near Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant today after reported Russian strike. pic.twitter.com/8Qfy5AlYmf— 𝕏 (@AlertChannel) October 25, 2023
New US House leader Mike Johnson avoids mention of Ukraine in victory speech
In his incoming address as the new speaker of the US House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced an immediate discussion of aid to Israel on the House floor, referenced turmoil in the Eastern Europe, but made no direct mention of Ukraine.
His fellow far-right colleagues on Capitol Hill, who essentially invited this relatively unknown figure to the dance, so to speak, have been increasingly vocal in their demands to defund Ukraine’s defense in favor of more money to Israel.
As noted earlier in Kyiv Post, the right-leaning group Republicans for Ukraine issued Johnson a rating of “Very Poor” in their report card on representatives’ voting record.
Even the neoconservative icon, Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard magazine and once Chief of Staff to former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, gave Johnson a failing grade on commitment to Ukraine.
Russian forces made some additional gains around the strategically important city of Avdiivka on Wednesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported. The invading troops have made slow but steady advances there over the past week, but have paid a very heavy price.
The ISW highlighted reports of a “prominent” Russian blogger who claimed on Wednesday that Russian forces achieved “serious tactical success” on the approaches to Avdiivka and near Stepove and advanced to the railway line north of Avdiivka. Another Russian military blogger claimed that Russian forces are advancing from Krasnohorivka to Novokalynove (7 km north of Avdiivka).
Geolocated footage published on Tuesday indicates that Russian forces have indeed advanced northwest of Krasnohorivka (5 km northwest of Avdiivka) while sustaining losses.
💥BOOM💥— Tonya Levchuk 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@TonyaLevchuk) October 24, 2023
📍Avdiivka front, is hell on earth…for russians 🐷☠️🪦
It’s absolutely worth watching!
🏻‼️ Enjoy and please support my fundraiser for evacuation vehicles for 🇺🇦 frontlines 🎯🚙➡️ https://t.co/2u2EABL1JD
🦅 Video footage from the drone y’all help to purchase 🏻💪🏻🇺🇦… pic.twitter.com/QehWyNiS6V
Recent outcomes of the days-long battle around the city’s now-famous “Terrikon” slag heap remain unclear. Russian sources broadly claim that their forces controlled the industrial waste pile, as did a Ukrainian military observer. But official Ukrainian sources, such as Avdiivka City Military Administration Head Vitaly Barabash, have denied those claims, continuing to refer to the area as a “gray zone.”
The Russian casualties and destruction of their armored vehicles have been steep. On Monday, the ISW noted, a Ukrainian reserve officer published satellite imagery confirming that Moscow lost more than 109 military vehicles near Avdiivka between Oct. 10 and 20. He said the majority of Russian losses were “primarily armored fighting vehicles, such as BMP-1 and BMP-2s and MT-LBs; T-72, T-64, and T-80 tanks; BTR armored personnel carriers; and other transport vehicles.” He also noted that “vehicle losses around Avdiivka have surpassed Russian vehicle losses during the failed Siversky Donets crossing in May 2022 and will likely surpass Russian vehicle losses in the Vuhledar area between November 2022 and April 2023.” He added that other sources estimate that Russian forces have lost around 200 military vehicles near Avdiivka in all.
Operations: Dnipro River
Several Russian sources on Wednesday reported that Ukrainian forces on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro have mounted “larger-than-usual” ground operations and continue to hold positions there.
The battle for the left bank village of Krynky continues, however, and the outcomes are unclear. One regular observer and Russian military blogger reported that “elements of the Russian 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) pushed Ukrainian forces out of Krynky” while Ukrainian forces stepped up ground operations from positions in the marshes north of Oleshky (4 km from the Dnipro River) on Tuesday night.
The prominent military blogger also claimed that a “Ukrainian assault group reached the northern part of Pishchanivka but that Russian forces pushed them out of the settlement,” the ISW noted. Meanwhile, a separate blogger claimed that Ukrainian forces “advanced from the Antonivsky railway bridge closer to Pidstepne.”
Kyiv plans to ramp up drone manufacturing to tens of thousands per month
Ukraine’s Minister for Strategic Industries told a NATO forum on Wednesday that Kyiv has set a goal of increasing domestic drone production to beyond tens of thousands per month by the end of 2023, Reuters reported.
“By the end of this year, it would be dozens of thousands a month. And that’s something we grow even faster than conventional warfare ammunition and warfare weapons,” Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin said.
Boosting production while many industrial areas of Ukraine are under attack is certainly a challenge he said, but claimed that the nation’s ammunition output has increased during the Russian invasion nonetheless.
The tactical use of drones has defined the Ukrainian counteroffensive, so much so that last month the chair of the NATO Military Committee noted at an alliance summit that “Ukraine has transformed modern warfare.” The EU also has been investing billions of euros in drone technology.
But at the moment, Ukraine remains heavily dependent on foreign producers for drone engines, Reuters noted.
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