Moscow disputed Kyiv's assertions that it was getting ready to leave a nuclear power plant in the country's south that it has been occupying since March while fierce fighting continued in eastern Ukraine.
Russia is battling to take the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region and secure a symbolic win after being on the back foot for months. Recent effective Ukrainian offensives have put most of the northeastern Kharkiv region back under Kyiv's control, as well as the important southern regional capital of Kherson.
To support units that have suffered losses while battling to halt Ukraine's advance, Russia is reportedly preparing to transfer forces stationed in Belarus, close to Ukraine's northern border with Moscow's ally, onto occupied Ukrainian territory, according to the general staff of the country's armed forces.
Russia's efforts to fortify defenses in seized territories come while its military campaign, which has been ongoing for more than nine months, sputters on. The largest nuclear power station in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, which Russia seized in March, may be ready to be abandoned, according to Petro Kotin, the chairman of Ukraine's state nuclear energy business, Energoatom.
"We've been getting information that signals have appeared indicating they may be preparing to go," Mr. Kotin said in an interview.
The Kremlin denied on Monday that Russia was making any preparations to leave the area around the facility, which it has reinforced strongly with troops and armor and which has long been the subject of frequent shelling that both sides have attributed to the other.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said: "There's no point looking for indications when there are none and there can be none."
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced on Telegram on Monday night that Russian forces have begun to deny admission to plant workers who had refused to sign contracts with Rosatom, Moscow's nuclear energy firm. In the meantime, the ministry reported that Ukrainian forces had destroyed a Russian-used railroad bridge close to the hamlet of Starobohdanivka in the Zaporizhzhia area.
Following Kherson's recent liberation by Ukraine after more than eight months of occupation, Russian forces stationed across the Dnipro River have been sporadically firing artillery at the city. After Russia damaged infrastructure during its departure, authorities have been able to restore electricity in some areas of the city, but essential utilities have still not been entirely restored.
Earlier this month, scenes of celebration when Ukrainian troops reached Kherson were overtaken by scenes of fear due to the escalating shelling. Residents have been ordered to evacuate, and every evening at 6 p.m., a free train departs the city in the direction of the west.
President Zelensky of Ukraine issued a warning that the nation was in for a challenging week due to the possibility of additional missile strikes by Russia intended to cripple vital infrastructure and lower morale among Ukrainians.
"Our armed forces are getting ready." In his weekly message on Sunday evening, Mr. Zelensky praised the repair workers working extra hours around the nation, saying, "Our whole country is preparing." "Every scenario is being evaluated."
As winter sets in and large portions of the nation, including its largest cities, experience prolonged power and water outages that frequently render the heating system inoperable as temperatures start to drop, Ukrainian and Western officials have warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine.
We are aware that the terrorists are preparing for new attacks, according to Mr. Zelensky. "We are confident in this." Sadly, they won't stop using rockets either.
According to the spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration, a pumping station in Kherson that was recently rebuilt and supplies drinking water to Mykolaiv was once again destroyed by a Russian rocket attack on Monday. According to Serhiy Bratchuk's Telegram post, the city will receive water from the Buzki estuary indefinitely.
The defense minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, claimed on Twitter on Monday that over the previous nine months, Russia has launched 16,000 missile attacks against Ukraine.
For attacks that have killed civilians nationwide and damaged thousands of homes, Ukraine has labeled Russia a terrorist state. The European Parliament and the national parliaments of many other nations have followed suit. Russia has criticized the designation and denied targeting people.
Authorities in Kyiv claim to have created more than 430 stations where people may warm up and charge their devices, and they have plans to open an additional 100. In an interview with Ukrainian media that was released on Monday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko stated that power shortages would probably last until the spring and that, if the situation worsens, some inhabitants may need to be evacuated from the city.
The foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland paid a visit to Kyiv on Monday as a sign of support.
"Despite Russia's barbarism and bombing campaign, Ukraine will win!" The chief diplomat for Latvia, Edgars Rinkevics, tweeted.