Heavy fighting is going on around two towns in Ukraine’s Donbas region – Soledar and Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
“The key hot spots in Donbas are Soledar and Bakhmut,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
“Very heavy fighting is going on there.”
The town of Bakhmut has been the next target of Russia’s armed forces in their slow advance through the Donetsk region since taking the key industrial towns of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk in June and July.
Soledar lies just to the north of Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has said plans to cap the price of Russian gas exports would cause supplies to be halted, echoing a similar threat from President Vladimir Putin.
The conflict in Ukraine has prompted European Union customers to reduce their purchases of Russian energy while the G7 and the EU are trying to impose a price cap on Russian oil and gas.
“Such a one-sided decision is of course a violation of existing contracts, which would lead to a termination of supplies,” Mr Miller said in comments broadcast on state television.
President Vladimir Putin last month threatened to cut off energy supplies if price caps were imposed, warning the West it would be “frozen” like a wolf’s tail in a famous Russian fairytale.
Cutting supplies from Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world’s top natural gas exporter, would roil global energy markets, leaving the world economy facing even higher energy prices.
11 shot dead at Russian military training ground
The Russian Defence Ministry said that 11 people were shot dead and 15 injured at a military training camp in the Belgorod area that borders Ukraine.
Citing the Russian Defence Ministry, Russian news agency RIA, said that two men attacked the camp which was full of Russians training to go and fight in Ukraine.
Russia described the shooting as a terrorist act.
It said the two assailants were nationals from a former Soviet republic but gave no further details.
The two assailants were shot dead.
Some Russian independent media outlets reported that the number of casualties was higher than the official figures.
RIA cited a Russian Defence Ministry statement as saying: “During a firearms training session with individuals who voluntarily expressed a desire to participate in the special military operation (against Ukraine), the terrorists opened fire with small arms on the personnel of the unit.”
Over the weekend, President Putin said Russia should be finished calling up reservists in two weeks, promising an end to a divisive mobilisation that has seen hundreds of thousands of men summoned to fight in Ukraine and huge numbers flee the country.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Mr Zelensky, said in a YouTube interview that the attackers were from the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan and had opened fire on the others after an argument over religion.
Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim nation, while around half of Russians follow various branches of Christianity. The Russian ministry had said the attackers were from a nation in the Commonwealth of Independent States, which groups nine ex-Soviet republics, including Tajikistan.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the comments by Mr Arestovych, a prominent commentator on the war, or independently verify casualty numbers and other details of the incident.
The independent Russian news website SOTA Vision said the attack occurred in the small town of Soloti, close to the Ukrainian border and about 105km southeast of Belgorod.
Mr Zelensky said yesterday that Ukrainian troops were still holding the strategic eastern town of Bakhmut despite repeated Russian attacks while the situation in the larger Donbas region remained very difficult.
Russian forces have repeatedly tried to seize Bakhmut, which sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Both are situated in the Donetsk region.
In the 24 hours to this morning, Russian forces targeted more than 30 towns and villages across Ukraine, launching five missile and 23 air strikes and up to 60 rocket attacks, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said today.
In response, Ukraine’s air forces carried out 32 strikes, hitting 24 Russian targets.
Fighting is particularly intense in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the strategically important Kherson province in the south, three of the four provinces Putin ‘annexed’.
The positions of the South forces were attacked several times yesterday and a small “shooting battle” took place near the village of Tryfonivka (in Kherson), Ukraine’s Armed Forces southern command said today.
Russian forces also fired nearly 20 Russian-made Grad rockets on the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, it said.
Russia’s defence ministry said yesterday that its forces had killed scores of Ukraine soldiers and destroyed five tanks near the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnipro River.
These claims could not be immediately independently verified.
Although Ukrainian troops have recaptured thousands of square kilometres of land in recent offensives in the east and south, officials say progress is likely to slow once Kyiv’s forces meet more determined resistance.
Ukrainian forces and civilians are relying on Starlink internet service provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company. Mr Musk said on Friday he could no longer afford to fund the service but yesterday said he would continue to do so.
Mr Zelensky said almost 65,000 Russians had been killed so far since the 24 February invasion, a figure far higher than Moscow’s official 21 September estimate of 5,937 dead.
In August the Pentagon said Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded.