Ukraine on brink after Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, area towns bombed

  • Moscow announces more bombing near the Russian-controlled factory
  • There is no new information from the Ukrainian nuclear operator
  • Local officials said Russian shells were hitting towns in the area
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency is awaiting permission to visit the Zaporizhzhya plant
  • Kuleba attends EU meeting on Russia visa ban

Kyiv (Reuters) – Russian artillery pounded Ukrainian towns across the river from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant at night, local officials said on Sunday, adding to the suffering of residents as reports of shelling around the plant raised fears of a radiation disaster.

The Russian Defense Ministry said there was more Ukrainian bombing of the plant in the past 24 hours, just a day after Moscow and Kiev exchanged accusations of targeting Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which raised serious international concerns. Read more

Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatum said it had no new information about the attacks on the plant.

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Captured by Russian forces in March but still manned by Ukrainian personnel, Russian forces on the war’s southern front line have been one of the main hot spots in the six-month-old conflict.

The US State Department said in a statement on Sunday that Moscow did not want to recognize the serious radiological danger at the Zaporizhzhya plant, and had blocked a draft agreement on nuclear non-proliferation because it indicated such a danger. Read more

The region’s governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said via Telegram, Sunday, that Russian forces bombed apartment buildings in the region’s main city of Zaporizhia, about a two-hour drive from the factory, and the town of Orekhev in the east.

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On Saturday, Staruch told Ukrainian television that residents are learning how to use iodine in the event of a radioactive leak.

The Ukrainian military reported bombing nine other towns in the region on the other side of the Dnipro River from the factory in its daily report, while the RIA quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that its air force bombed the Motor Sitch vehicle. (MSICH.UAX) Factory in the area where helicopters were repaired.

Russian authorities said they had shot down a Ukrainian drone that was planning to attack the plant’s nuclear waste storage facility, according to the RIA news agency.

Reuters was unable to verify those reports.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that nine shells fired by Ukrainian artillery in two separate attacks fell on the territory of the nuclear plant.

“Currently, full-time technical personnel monitor the technical condition of the nuclear plant and ensure its operation. The radiological situation in the nuclear power plant area remains normal,” he said in a statement.

The United Nations and Kiev called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn from the plant to ensure it was not a target. Read more

A continent in danger

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the Russian forces had turned the plant into a military base, endangering the entire continent, and they had no interest in being there.

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“The Russian army should get out of the factory,” he said on Twitter.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is awaiting approval for its officials to visit the plant, which the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday should be “very, very close”. And power was cut off from two reactors at the plant last week due to the bombing. Read more

The Kyiv army said in its daily report that Ukrainian forces on the eastern front of Ukraine had stopped the latest Russian attempt to advance towards the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk region.

It added in an afternoon update that Ukrainian forces also repelled Russian attempts to launch an offensive in three directions, including the Bakhmut region and the coal-producing town of Avdiivka.

Having captured Severodonetsk and Lysichansk weeks ago, Moscow’s forces focused on Bakhmut in their quest to establish control over the Donbass region. According to the governors of the two regions, Sloviansk and the city of Kramatorsk, also located in Donetsk province, were bombed by Russian forces during the night, but there were no reports of new casualties.

Reuters was unable to verify those accounts.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that in the past, the Donbass region and the city of Donetsk celebrated annual holidays on the last weekend of August. “Ukraine will never forget anything,” he said in his nightly video address.

President Vladimir Putin began his neighbor’s invasion of Russia on February 24, saying that a “special operation” was needed to disarm the country and remove perceived security threats to Russia.

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Ukraine and the West dismissed this as a baseless excuse to launch an imperialist war of occupation that killed thousands, displaced millions, reduced cities to rubble and threatened the global economy with a crisis of energy and food supplies, driving up prices.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Kuleba would travel to Sweden on Monday, followed by a trip to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, as part of Kyiv’s efforts to bolster international support for Ukraine and push for more pressure on Russia.

In Prague, he will attend an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that will discuss new sanctions on Moscow and an EU-wide visa ban for Russians. Zelensky called for such a ban earlier this month, but so far he has found support mainly from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland, which all share a border with Russia. Read more

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Reporting by Max Hunder and Pavel Polyuk in the Kyiv and Reuters offices; Written by Thomas Janowski and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Nick McPhee, Catherine Evans and Paul Simao

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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