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The Kremlin accuses Kyiv of shelling nuclear power plants

#Kremlin #accuses #Kyiv #shelling #nuclear #power #plants

The Kremlin on Monday accused Ukrainian forces of firing on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in occupied Ukraine, warning that the alleged attacks could have “catastrophic consequences”.

Kyiv said Moscow was responsible and called for the area to be demilitarized. Two employees were injured in the recent attacks.

Fighting, meanwhile, continued along battle lines stretching across eastern Ukraine, and Russia continued to crack down on dissent at home.

Each side has blamed the other for escalating fighting around the Zaporizhia facility in south-eastern Ukraine, which was captured by Russian forces at the start of their invasion launched in late February.

Recent fighting at the plant has prompted the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to warn of “the very real risk of nuclear catastrophe”.

Ukraine said the facility should be cleared by the Russian military and called for an international security and energy team to be set up to monitor the sight.

“What needs to be done is to remove the occupying forces from the station and create a demilitarized zone on the station’s territory,” said Petro Kotin, president of Ukraine’s nuclear energy company Energoatom.

“There should be a peacekeeping mission with experts from the IAEA and other security organizations,” he added.

“Their presence and the initial handing over of control to them and then to the Ukrainian side would have solved this problem.”

– “nuclear terrorism” –

Kotin said that Russia has deployed around 500 Russian troops and 50 pieces of equipment, including tanks, in Zaporizhia, echoing previous claims from Kyiv that Moscow was using the site for military cover.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, meanwhile, accused Russia of “nuclear terrorism” and called on the world to “unite now to prevent disaster.”

The Kremlin has seized parts of Ukraine’s territory since February, adopted the Russian currency and announced plans to formally annex the territories by vote, including the Zaporizhia region.

The head of the administration installed in Moscow, Yevgeny Balitsky, said on social media on Monday that he had signed a decree “on the issue of organizing a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhia region with the Russian Federation.”

The plans follow a similar move by Moscow in 2014 after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula, a highly controversial vote that was not recognized by most Western countries.

Although attention was focused on the aftermath of the fighting at Zaporizhia, Russian forces continued to shell the extensive eastern front.

Among the attacks, Ukraine said one woman was killed and four others wounded in Russian bombing raids on the Kharkiv region in the northeast. It has been under Russian fire for weeks.

Ukrainian forces, in turn, said they bombed a strategic bridge over the Dnipro River in the Russian-held southern city of Kherson overnight.

– Fresh penalty for journalist –

Authorities in Moscow continued their crackdown on opposition to the war and imposed a new fine on journalist Marina Ovsyannikova.

Ovsyannikova rose to prominence in March for interrupting a live broadcast to denounce Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

On Monday, her lawyer did not rule out that she could face another criminal investigation.

On Monday there was progress in a rare area of ​​compromise between Russia and Ukraine after the first boat to leave Ukrainian ports under a recent deal between Ankara and the UN reached its destination in Turkey.

While Kyiv welcomed the news, officials also said there was a delay in the first shipment leaving Ukrainian ports because the buyer refused delivery, citing a five-month delay in delivery.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on social media that a cargo ship carrying grain left the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi for the first time.

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#Kremlin #accuses #Kyiv #shelling #nuclear #power #plants

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