In anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian forces have seized Ukraine's second-largest power plant and are conducting a "major redeployment" of troops to three southern districts, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser.
On Thursday, Russian-backed forces announced they had captured the complete coal-fired Vuhlehirsk power station, marking Moscow's first substantial success in almost three weeks.
It was confirmed by Oleksiy Arestovych, a consultant to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, although it was merely a "small tactical gain" for Russia, according to Arestovych.
He said that the Russian redeployment to the south appeared to be a shift from offensive to defensive strategy, with troops being transferred to the districts of Zaporizhia, Melitopol, and Kherson.
Since Russia captured Kherson in the early days of the conflict, Ukraine has stated that it aims to retake the city.
Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, disclosed on social media earlier that Russia was concentrating "the largest amount of troops" in the direction of Kherson, but provided no other information.
In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces in the south have reportedly killed 66 enemy soldiers and destroyed three tanks and two arms caches. They claimed that Russian military targeted the city of Mykolaiv with several missile launchers.
Additionally, Ukraine shelled a key bridge spanning the Dnipro River in Kherson, restricting it to traffic. Russian officials had earlier noted that pontoon bridges and boats would be used to transport troops across the river.
Zelenskiy stated that his country would reconstruct the Antonivskyi bridge over the Dnieper as well as other regional crossings.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in a "special military operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" its neighbor. Ukraine and its allies refer to the invasion as an act of unprovoked aggression.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would have their first telephone contact since before the start of the war.
Blinken stated at a news conference Washington's view that any negotiations on ending the war must take place between Kiev and Moscow.
The TASS news agency claimed that Russia has not received a formal request from the United States regarding a phone call between Blinken and Lavrov.
Blinken stated that the United States has made a "significant offer" to Russia in exchange for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, but did not specify what the United States was offering in return.