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Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of strikes at nuclear power plants

#Ukraine #Russia #accuse #strikes #nuclear #power #plants

Kyiv and Moscow are trading blame for renewed shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear facility, which is under Russian control and has come under repeated fire in the past week.

The Zaporizhia plant in southeastern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian forces since March, and Kyiv has accused Moscow of stationing hundreds of soldiers and storing weapons there.

During his televised address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of nuclear “blackmail” and using the facility to “intimidate people in the most cynical way”.

“They arrange constant provocations by shelling the territory of the nuclear power plant and try to direct their additional forces in this direction in order to further blackmail our state and the entire free world,” Zelenskyy said.

He added that Russian forces were “hiding” behind the facility to stage bombings of the Ukrainian-controlled cities of Nikopol and Marganets.

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom warned residents of the town of Energodar, where the power plant is located, to stay off the roads as much as possible to avoid sustained Russian shelling.

“According to local residents, there is new shelling in the direction of the nuclear power plant … the time between the beginning and the arrival of the shelling is 3 to 5 seconds,” Energoatom said in a message shared on Telegram by a local boss on Saturday in the city of Energodar who remains loyal to Kyiv.

But pro-Moscow officials in the occupied territories of Zaporizhia blamed the shelling on Ukrainian forces.

“Energodar and the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are again under fire from Zelenskyy’s[Ukrainian President Volodymyr’s]militants,” said Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-based government.

The rockets fell “in the areas on the banks of the Dnipro River and at the plant,” he said, without reporting casualties or damage.

The river separates the Russian-occupied and Ukrainian-controlled areas.

– nuclear catastrophe –

Kyiv and Moscow have traded accusations this month over multiple rounds of shelling at the plant, with the strikes stoking fears of a nuclear disaster.

The UN Security Council on Thursday declared a state of emergency over the situation, warning of a “severe” crisis in Zaporizhia.

Ukraine said the first strikes on August 5 struck a high-voltage cable, forcing one of the reactors to shut down.

Then Thursday’s strikes damaged a pumping station and radiation sensors.

Backed by Western allies, Ukraine has called for a demilitarized zone around the plant and the withdrawal of Russian forces.

In the leafy hilltop town of Marganets, 13 kilometers from the nuclear facility and still under Ukrainian control, residents view the facility across the shimmering river with a dark sense of reality.

“You know, when we die, it happens in a second, we won’t suffer,” Anastasiia, 30, told AFP on Friday.

“It gives me peace of mind that my child and my family will not be in pain.”

The Ukrainian military has warned against visiting the banks of the Dnieper amid fears that enemy troops could open fire from across the river.

“There is constant fear. And the news says the situation at the plant is very tense, so it’s getting worse by the second,” said 18-year-old Ksenia, who serves customers from a coffee kiosk along the city’s main shopping street.

“You’re just afraid to go to bed because terrible things happen here at night.”

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#Ukraine #Russia #accuse #strikes #nuclear #power #plants

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