Ukraine has accused the Russian military of bombing a nuclear power plant site
Ukraine on Monday accused Russia of bombing the site of a nuclear power plant in the south of the country, reiterating fears the war could lead to a major nuclear incident.
This Ukrainian nuclear site is the third to be dragged into the war that Russia launched against Ukraine in February, despite multiple calls from the international community to spare that infrastructure to avoid causing a continental catastrophe.
For its part, Moscow on Monday denounced Ukraine’s “lying”, three days after the discovery of hundreds of bodies buried in the forest near the town of Izioum recently taken over by the Russian army. Kyiv has accused the Russian army of abuse.
In response to the rocket attack on the Pivdennonooukrainsk power plant in the Mykolaiv region (south), President Volodymyr Zelenskyy judged that Russia is “endangering the whole world”.
“We have to stop it until it’s too late,” he said on Telegram, releasing surveillance video showing a large explosion.
According to the operator Energoatom, “a huge explosion occurred just 300 meters from the reactors” of this plant, which led to a night attack by a Russian missile.
260 kilometers as the crow flies to the west, another Ukrainian nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, Zaporizhia, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the first weeks of the invasion, has come under repeated bombing raids in recent months, causing major damage to concerns.
Kyiv and Moscow blame each other and accuse each other of nuclear blackmail. However, the situation there has improved in recent days and the plant has been reconnected to the Ukrainian power grid.
– No break –
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an organization that has had monitors on the ground since early September, called on Russia to withdraw.
At the start of the Russian invasion, Moscow forces also occupied the site of the Chernobyl power plant (north), one of whose reactors exploded in 1986, causing radioactive fallout across much of Europe.
The occupation of the site had raised fears for the safety of the damaged reactor’s safety sarcophagus. After the failed offensive on Kyiv, the Russian armed forces finally withdrew in the spring.
In Pivdennonooukrainsk, the power plant was running normally Monday morning despite the missile impact, which smashed a hundred windows and caused a brief disruption of three high-voltage power lines.
The bombardment came as Russian forces suffered a series of failures in September as they retreated from much of the north-east of the country in the face of a lightning-fast Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region. Kiev’s troops were also regaining ground in the south, albeit more slowly.
However, the Ukrainian advance has been slowing down for a few days. President Zelenskyy on Sunday night insisted that it was “not a pause” but “to prepare the next steps”, with Russia controlling a large part of the Donbass (east) and the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions (south) after being annexed to Ukraine Crimean peninsula in 2014.
– Torture and “lies” –
In the Kharkiv region, exhumations of bodies at Izium continue after more than 440 graves were discovered near this key city, which was recently recaptured by the Russians. Some corpses with their hands tied showed signs of abuse. Ukrainian investigators began their investigation on September 16.
Once again, as after the discovery of hundreds of civilian bodies in Boutcha in the spring after the Russian withdrawal, the Kremlin denied any extortion.
“That’s a lie. We will of course defend the truth in this case,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin. “It’s the same scenario as in Boutcha”.
The Czech EU Council Presidency called for the establishment of an international special court on Saturday.
AFP journalists collected testimonies from Ukrainians who said they were tortured by Russian soldiers during the occupation of the Kharkiv region.
At the Izioum hospital, Mykhaïlo Tchindeï, 67, says he was held in a damp cell by enemy soldiers for 12 days and that his guards broke his arm with a metal rod.
“They hit my heels, my back, my legs and my kidneys,” adds Mr Tchindei, who is accused by the Russian soldiers of giving Ukrainian forces the coordinates of a school where they are based. A Ukrainian bombardment had killed many Russian soldiers there.
On the diplomatic front, the list of sanctions against Moscow has grown even longer. Since Monday, Poland and the three Baltic states have been restricting the entry of Russian nationals with European visas into their territories.
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