Ukraine warns of ‘nuclear terrorism’ after strike near plant

KYIV, Ukraine – A Russian missile blew up a crater near a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, damaging nearby industrial equipment but failing to hit its three reactors. . Ukrainian authorities denounced the move as an act of “nuclear terrorism”.

The missile hit within 300 meters (328 yards) of the reactors at the Southern Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province, leaving a hole 2 meters (6 and a half feet) deep and 4 feet wide. meters (13 feet), according to Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.

The reactors were operating normally and no personnel were injured. But the proximity of the strike raised concerns that Russia’s nearly seven-month war in Ukraine could cause a radioactive disaster.

This nuclear power plant is Ukraine’s second largest nuclear power plant after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. constantly getting shot.

Next recent battlefield defeat, Russian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened to step up Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. During the war, Russia targeted Ukraine’s power generation and transmission equipment, causing power outages and jeopardizing the safety systems of the country’s nuclear power plants.

The industrial complex including the factory in Southern Ukraine is located along the Southern Bug River, about 300 km (190 mi) south of the capital Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities said the attack caused a temporary shutdown of a nearby hydroelectric power station and shattered more than 100 windows at the complex. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said three power lines were taken offline but later reconnected.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry released a black and white video showing two large fireballs erupting in the dark, followed by showers of incandescent light, at 19 minutes after midnight. The ministry and Energoatom called the attack “nuclear terrorism”.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the attack.

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, since the beginning of the invasion. The shelling cut off the plant’s transmission lines, forcing the operators to shut down its six reactors to avoid a radioactive disaster. Russia and Ukraine have been blamed for the attacks.

The IAEA, stationed at the Zaporizhzhia plant, said a main line has been reconnected Sixth, provide the electricity needed to cool the reactor.

However, the mayor of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia factory is located, said on Monday there was further Russian shelling of the city’s industrial area.

While warning on Friday of the possibility of an increase in attacks, Putin claimed his forces had so far acted with caution but warned “if the situation develops in this way, the Ours will be more serious.”

“Only recently, the Russian armed forces have carried out a number of high-impact attacks,” he said. “Think of those as warning strikes.”

Ukraine’s presidential office said the latest Russian shelling had killed at least eight civilians and wounded 22. The governor of the northeastern region Kharkiv, now in Ukrainian hands, said Russian shelling had killed four medical workers trying to evacuate patients from a mental hospital and wounded two. .

Meanwhile, the mayor of the Russian-occupied eastern city of Donetsk said Ukrainian shelling had killed 13 civilians and wounded eight there.

Patricia Lewis, director of international security research at the Chatham House consultancy in London, said: attacks at the Zaporizhzhia . factory and Monday’s attack on the plant in Southern Ukraine indicates that the Russian military is trying to knock down Ukraine’s nuclear plants before winter.

“It was a very, very dangerous and illegal act against a nuclear station,” Lewis told the Associated Press. “Only the generals know the intentions, but there’s clearly a pattern.”

“What they seem to do every time is try to cut off the power to the reactor,” she said. “That’s a very clumsy way to do it, because how accurate are these rockets?”

Power is needed to run the pumps that circulate cooling water to the reactors, preventing overheating and – in the worst case – a nuclear fuel meltdown that spews radiation.

Other recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure have targeted power plants in the north and a dam in the south. They came in response to a widespread Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east of the country to regain Russian-occupied territory in the Kharkiv region.

Analysts have noted that in addition to recapturing the territory, challenges remain in holding it. In a video speech on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy cryptically said of that effort, “I cannot reveal all the details, but thanks to the Security Service of Ukraine, we are now confident that the occupiers will not have any foothold on Ukrainian soil.”

Ukraine’s successes in Kharkiv – Russia’s biggest defeat since its forces were driven back from around Kyiv in the opening stages of the invasion – prompted rare public criticism in Russia. and increased military and diplomatic pressure on Putin. Critics of Kremlin nationalism have questioned why Moscow still hasn’t brought Ukraine into the shadows by hitting all of the country’s major nuclear power plants.

– A governor said Ukraine has recaptured the village of Bilogorivka in the Russian-occupied eastern Luhansk region. Russia did not acknowledge the claim.

– Russian-installed leaders in Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions on Monday reiterated their call to hold referendums to tie their regions to Russia officially. These officials have discussed such plans before, but the referendums have been repeatedly delayed, possibly because of insufficient public support.

– The Supreme Court in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region convicted a former interpreter of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and another with no specific duties of treason on Monday. Both were sentenced to 13 years in prison.

—The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania close their borders Second to most Russian citizens in return for domestic support in Russia for the war in Ukraine. Poland will join the ban on September 26.

– The famous singer Alla Pugacheva became the most famous Russian celebrity to criticize the war, describing Russia in an Instagram post on Sunday as “a pariah” and said that their soldiers were dying for “false goals”. Valery Fadeyev, head of the Russian President’s Council on Human Rights, accused Pugacheva of sincerely citing humanitarian concerns to justify her criticism and predicted that famous artists like she would have less influence on the public after the war.

AP journalist John Leicester in Le Pecq, France, contributes.

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