Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of using its position at a nuclear power plant it had seized to hit a nearby town in a rocket attack that killed at least 13 people and seriously injured many others.
he city of Ukraine says Russia has been targeted — Marhanets — is one Russia claims Ukrainian forces have fired in the past on Russian forces holed up at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which they took over in March.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of endangering the security of the huge facility – the largest in Europe – by attacking each other in their vicinity.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has called on both sides to exercise restraint and warned of the “very real risk of a nuclear catastrophe”.
And the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven’s leading industrialized countries on Wednesday demanded that Russia immediately return control of the plant to Ukraine, which Moscow is unlikely to do.
There was no immediate comment from Russia on Ukrainian allegations of a missile attack on Marhanets, and Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations.
Moscow says it is not intentionally targeting civilians in its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, aimed at protecting its own security from an expansion of the NATO military alliance.
Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, accused Russia of allowing the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to attack Ukrainian cities with impunity, knowing it would be risky for Ukraine to fight back.
“Eighty reactive missiles fired at residential buildings,” Yermak wrote in the Telegram news service, referring to the attack on Marhanets.
“The terrorist nation continues to fight against civilians. There is nothing more the cowardly Russians can do, so they attack cities shamefully hiding by the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant,” he wrote.
Ukraine, which accuses Moscow of waging an unprovoked imperial-style war of aggression, says about 500 Russian soldiers with heavy vehicles and weapons are stationed at the plant, where Ukrainian technicians continue to work.
Russia says its armed forces are behaving responsibly and are doing everything they can to keep the facility safe. Moscow has accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant, which Kyiv denies.
Valentyn Reznychenko, governor of Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region, said on Wednesday that the Russian attack on Marhanets was carried out with 80-degree rockets.
More than 20 buildings were damaged in the town, which is across the Dnipro River from the power plant, he said.
The same attack damaged a power line, leaving several thousand people without power, he added. A dormitory, two schools, a concert hall, the main council building and other administrative buildings were also hit, he said.
Pictures provided by Ukrainian officials showed the debris-strewn corridor of a school that appeared to have been hit, with windows shattered, and an apartment building pierced by a missile.
Attack on an air base in Crimea
The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power plant on Tuesday warned of the “very high” risk of a shelling of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and said it was vital that Kyiv regained control of the plant in time for the winter.
He said lines connecting the plant to Ukraine’s power grid were damaged and accused Russia of wanting to connect the plant to its grid.
“The risk is very high” that containers with radioactive material will be shot at, he said.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday demanded that UN nuclear inspectors be given access to Zaporizhia, calling any attack on a nuclear power plant “suicidal”.
Moscow has asked IAEA chief Grossi to brief the UN Security Council on Thursday on Russia’s allegations that Ukrainian forces have attacked the plant, diplomats said.
Britain, which is helping Ukraine with arms, intelligence and training, said on Wednesday it believed Russia had “almost certainly” deployed a large new ground force to support its war.
The new force, dubbed the 3rd Army Corps, is based in the town of Mulino, east of the Russian capital Moscow, the UK Defense Ministry said in a daily intelligence bulletin.
She said she anticipates that Russia will struggle to build up the troop levels it needs and that the new force is unlikely to play a crucial role in the war.
The origin of a series of explosions at a Russian airbase in Russia-annexed Crimea the day before remained a matter of dispute, with Moscow saying ammunition dumps had blown up and Ukrainian officials hinting that Kyiv may have been responsible.
Two US newspapers quoted unnamed Ukrainian officials as saying that Ukrainian special forces carried out an attack on the airbase, resulting in the destruction of Russian military aircraft there.
Zelenskyy didn’t directly mention the blasts in his daily video address late Tuesday, but said it was right that people were focusing on Crimea.
“We will never give them up… the Black Sea region cannot be safe as long as Crimea is occupied,” he said, repeating his government’s position that Crimea must one day be returned to Ukraine.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-accuses-russia-of-using-power-plant-as-nuclear-shield-after-rocket-attack-it-says-killed-13-41902654.html Ukraine has accused Russia of using the power plant as a “nuclear shield” after a missile attack allegedly killed 13 people