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Kyiv and Moscow blame nuclear power plant

#Kyiv #Moscow #blame #nuclear #power #plant

Kyiv and Moscow accused each other of attacking Europe’s largest nuclear site and causing a reactor shutdown on Friday as three grain ships left Ukraine under a deal to avoid food shortages.

Russian troops have occupied the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine since the early days of their invasion, and Kyiv has accused them of storing heavy weapons there. Moscow, in turn, has accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the facility.

“Three strikes were registered at the site of the plant, near one of the power plant blocks where the nuclear reactor is located,” Ukraine’s state nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said in a statement.

“There is a risk of hydrogen escaping and being sprayed radioactively. The risk of fire is high,” said Energoatom. No casualties were reported.

Workers at Russia’s nuclear operator Rosatom were said to have hastily evacuated the plant before the attacks, which damaged a power cable and forced one of the reactors to shut down.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address that Russia should “take responsibility for the mere fact that a threat to a nuclear power plant arises.”

“Today the occupiers created another extremely risky situation for all of Europe: they twice attacked the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. Any bombing of this site is a flagrant crime, an act of terrorism,” he said.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry earlier said the “possible consequences of hitting a functioning reactor are tantamount to using a nuclear bomb.”

The Defense Ministry in Moscow denied the reports.

“Ukrainian armed units carried out three artillery strikes on the territory of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and the city of Energodar,” it said.

The fresh surge of tension came as Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin thanked Erdogan for his help in orchestrating the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments, the first of which is due to arrive in Lebanon on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut.

The Sierra Leonean-flagged bulk carrier Razoni set sail from Ukraine’s port of Odessa on Monday with 26,000 tons of corn – the first departure under a UN-backed deal brokered with Turkish help to ease the global food crisis.

Kyiv said three more ships loaded with grain will set sail from Ukraine on Friday for Turkey and markets in Ireland and Britain. Another 13 are waiting to leave.

“Deliveries have already started. I want to thank you, both for that and for simultaneously making an accompanying decision on uninterrupted supply of Russian food and fertilizers to world markets,” Putin told Erdogan in Sochi.

Asli Aydintasbas, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a report last week that the war in Ukraine had “restored Turkey’s self-image as a major geopolitical actor” and put Erdogan in a higher profile than at any time in recent years.

The Turkish head of state wants to translate the success in Istanbul into ceasefire talks between Putin and Zelenskyy.

– Extensive investigations –

Meanwhile, Moscow announced on Friday that it would impose travel bans on 62 Canadian citizens, including government officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the list included people known for “their malicious activities in the fight against the ‘Russian world’ and our traditional values.”

Controversy has erupted in Ukraine over allegations that it is violating international law and endangering civilians in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Amnesty International released a report on Thursday detailing incidents in 19 cities where Ukrainian forces appeared to put civilians at risk by setting up bases in residential areas.

President Zelenskyy equated the allegations with a victim accusation. In his evening address on Thursday, he said the rights group had sought “to offer the terror state amnesty and to shift responsibility from the aggressor to the victim.”

“There is no condition, even hypothetical, under which any Russian attack on Ukraine would be justified. The aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terroristic,” he added.

“If someone files a complaint that claims victims and attackers are equal…then that cannot be tolerated.”

Amnesty International said a four-month investigation revealed the Ukrainian military had set up bases in schools and hospitals and launched attacks from populated areas.

It said the tactic violated international humanitarian law and dismissed criticism of its report.

“The findings… were based on evidence gathered during an extensive investigation, which was subjected to the same rigorous standards and due diligence processes as all of Amnesty International’s work,” Secretary-General Agnes Callamard told AFP in emailed comments .

– Counteroffensive –

On Friday, Zelenskyy’s office and local authorities reported Russian bombing raids on the southern city of Mykolaiv using widely banned cluster bombs and heavy artillery, injuring 20 people, including a 14-year-old boy.

Mykolaiv is on the main route to Odessa, Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port, and is the city closest to the southern front.

Several rockets hit the city of Zaporizhia overnight, and Ukraine’s second-largest city in northeastern Ukraine, Kharkiv, was heavily bombed.

Ukrainian forces are conducting a counteroffensive in the south, where they claim to have recaptured more than 50 villages previously controlled by Moscow.

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