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Ukraine detains suspected collaborator in Kherson as fighting in Donbas continues

The Ukrainian government has detained a city council official in the newly-liberated southern city of Kherson on suspicion of collaborating with the Russian occupation.

The official, who has not been named, was arrested for allegedly aiding the Russian occupation forces since March, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General.

“He contributed to the establishment of communal and housing services for the occupation administration, [and] illegally created law enforcement agencies, units of the Russian Guard, the FSB, and the Russian military,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The official has been accused of the crime of “assisting an aggressor state,” and faces 12 years in prison if convicted.

Kherson was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russians in the early days of the invasion and remained the only provincial capital occupied by Moscow’s forces until its liberation earlier this month.

A man hands an older Ukrainian food through a dark window
AP

The city has been repeatedly shelled by Russian forces since their retreat in early November, leaving three-quarters of its residents without power, according to Kyiv.

Kherson joins many a Ukrainian city, now left in the dark following a concerted campaign by Moscow to shell the nation’s power grid as winter approaches.

The tactic — which western officials have described as “weaponizing” the winter — has caused regular power disruptions for an estimated third of the Ukrainian population.

“The overall deficit in the energy system is a consequence of seven waves of Russian missile attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure,” Ukraine’s grid operator, Ukrenergo, said in a statement.

While Russian forces continue to fire artillery on Kherson City from the eastern side of the Dnipro River, Ukrainian forces are working to clear Russian mines from the Western side of the river, according to a Pentagon assessment.

a broken road bridge over a large body of water
AP

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continues in the eastern industrial region known as the Donbas.

In the northern Donbas province of Luhansk, fighting remains heavy, according to a senior US military official who briefed reporters Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Ukrainian forces have yet to push far into the province, with the P66 highway — which runs south towards Severodonetsk — becoming a de facto battle line.

If accurate, the reports indicate a lack of significant movement on the northern front since Russian troops began to dig in October following Kyiv’s successful counteroffensive in neighboring Kharkiv province.

Further south, in the Donbas province of Donetsk, fighting continues to rage outside the city of Bakhmut, where Russian forces have been trying to take control of the city for months.

The senior US official assessed the city — some 30 miles southwest of Severodonetsk — as having some logistical value for the Russian forces, given its proximity to several road and rail intersections.

The city also represents a stumbling block Russia was unable to take during its 2014 attempt to take eastern Ukraine by proxy.

A missile launcher fires
AP

Each side has gained and lost territory on the outskirts of Bakhmut, the official said, but overall the battle lines have not changed in either nation’s favor.

Artillery fire near Bakhmut has become so intense that both sides are reverting to trench war tactics reminiscent of the 2014 campaign.

Additional reporting by Caitlin Doornbos and wires