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Ukraine calls on world to ‘show strength’ after bombing near nuclear plant

Ukraine calls on world to 'show strength' after bombing near nuclear plant
  • Zelensky seeks new sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector
  • Russia and Ukraine blamed the trade in the bombing near the factory
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned of a catastrophe at the plant unless the fighting stops

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukraine has called for new sanctions against Russia and highlighted the risks and consequences of a disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear plant, as new bombing nearby sparked a blame game between the two sides.

Ukrainian and Russian officials blame each other for the attacks near the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russian soldiers that if they attacked the outpost in the now Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, or used it as a base for firing from, they would become a “special target.”

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“If a catastrophe occurs through Russia’s actions, the consequences may harm those who remain silent at the moment,” he said in a speech late Monday night, calling for new sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector.

“If the world does not now show the strength and decisiveness to defend a single nuclear power plant, then the world has lost.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency warned of catastrophe if the fighting did not stop.

About 25 heavy artillery strikes from US-made M777 howitzers landed near the nuclear plant and residential areas during a two-hour period, Vladimir Rogov, the Russian official at Enerodar, said on Monday.

Russia’s Interfax news agency, citing the press service of the Russian-appointed administration in Enerhodar, said Ukrainian forces opened fire, with explosions near the power plant.

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But according to the head of the administration of the Nikopol region, which lies across the river from Enerhodar and is still under Ukrainian control, it was Russian forces that bombed the city in an attempt to show that Ukraine was attacking it.

“The Russians believe that they can force the world to comply with their conditions by bombing the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant,” Andrei Yermak, the chief of Ukraine’s presidential staff, wrote on Twitter.

Russian forces have continued to bombard towns and cities – Velika Kostryomka in the south and Maranits – opposite the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, according to a Facebook report from the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Southern District.

It added that Ukrainian forces killed 23 Russian soldiers and destroyed two reinforced positions.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the battlefield reports.

The United Nations says it has the logistical and security capacity to support a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency if Russia and Ukraine agree. Read more

On Monday, the ministry said that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had called Guterres to discuss conditions for the safe operation of the plant.

“In close cooperation with the agency and its leadership, we will make every effort so that IAEA specialists are present at the station and provide an honest assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

But Igor Vishnevitsky, deputy head of the Department of Nuclear Proliferation and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was later quoted as saying that it would be too dangerous for any IAEA mission to travel through the capital, Kyiv, to inspect the plant. Read more

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“Imagine what it means to pass through Kyiv – it means that they will reach the nuclear plant through the front line,” Vishnevitsky was quoted by the RIA news agency.

Ukraine, where parliament on Monday extended martial law for another three months, said for weeks it was planning a counter-offensive to retake Zaporozhye and the neighboring Kherson province, the largest and still occupied part of the territory Russia captured after its February 24 invasion.

The death penalty

The conflict, which caused millions to flee and killed thousands, put great strain on relations between Moscow and the West.

A Russian-backed separatist court in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, has charged five foreigners it said were arrested fighting with Ukrainian forces as mercenaries, Russian media reported. Three of the men could face the death penalty. Read more

Russia said late on Monday that a British reconnaissance plane had breached its air border in the peninsula of eastern Finland between the Barents Sea and the White Sea, and a fighter jet forced British aircraft out of Russian airspace.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia describes its invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and its Western backers accuse Moscow of waging an imperial-style war of conquest.

The Ukrainian military reported Monday evening that Russian forces were launching bombing advances on a variety of frontline positions in the east and south.

Even as the largest attack on a European country since 1945 continues, there has been progress on a grain deal to ease the global food crisis triggered by the conflict, the most significant diplomatic breakthrough since the war began.

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The Joint Coordination Center, set up by the United Nations, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, said it had approved the departure of the brave leader, the first shipment of humanitarian food aid destined for Africa from Ukraine since the invasion. She is scheduled to leave on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Costas Pettas and Lycoln Fest; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Stephen Coates and Simon Cameron Moore

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.