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Russia and Ukraine blame each other for attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant


Ukraine says Russian rockets damaged part of a giant Russian-controlled nuclear power plant.

Kyiv:

Kyiv and Moscow accused each other of hitting Europe’s largest nuclear site on Friday, causing a reactor to shut down as three grain ships left Ukraine under a deal to avert shortages food.

Russian troops have occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine since the early days of their invasion and Kyiv has accused them of stockpiling heavy weapons there. Moscow, in turn, accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the plant.

“Three strikes were recorded at the site of the plant, near one of the power blocks where the nuclear reactor is located,” Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said in a statement.

“There are risks of hydrogen leakage and radioactive spraying. The fire danger is high,” Energoatom said. He did not report any casualties.

He said staff from Russian nuclear operator Rosatom left the plant in a hurry before the attacks, which damaged an electrical cable and forced one of the reactors to stop working.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his daily video address, said Russia should “take responsibility for the very fact of creating a threat to a nuclear power plant”.

“Today the occupiers have created another extremely risky situation for all of Europe: they have struck the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant twice. Any bombardment of this site is a shameless crime, an act of terror”, a- he declared.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said earlier that “the possible consequences of an impact on a working reactor are equivalent to the use of an atomic bomb”.

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow denied this information.

“Ukrainian armed units carried out three artillery strikes on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the city of Energodar,” he added.

The new spike in tension came as Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian resort town of Sochi.

Putin thanked Erdogan for helping orchestrate the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments, the first of which is expected to arrive in Lebanon on Sunday according to the Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut.

The bulk carrier Razoni, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday with 26,000 tons of maize – the first departure under a UN-backed deal brokered with the help of the Turkey, to alleviate the global food crisis.

Kyiv said three more ships loaded with grain left Ukraine on Friday, bound for Turkey and markets in Ireland and Britain. Thirteen others are waiting to leave.

“Deliveries have already started. I want to thank you, both for this and for the fact that at the same time an accompanying decision was made on the uninterrupted supply of Russian food and fertilizers to the markets worlds,” Putin told Erdogan in Sochi.

Asli Aydintasbas, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a report last week that the war in Ukraine had “restored Turkey’s self-image as a key geopolitical player” and given Erdogan greater visibility than at any time in recent years. .

The Turkish leader wants to translate the success into truce talks in Istanbul between Putin and Zelensky.

– In-depth investigations –

Meanwhile, Moscow announced on Friday that it was imposing entry bans on 62 Canadian citizens, including government officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the list included figures known for “their malicious activity in the fight against the ‘Russian world’ and our traditional values”.

In Ukraine, controversy has erupted over accusations of violating international law and endangering civilians in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Amnesty International released a report on Thursday listing incidents in 19 towns and villages where Ukrainian forces appeared to have put civilians at risk by establishing bases in residential areas.

President Zelensky equated the accusations with victim blaming. In his Thursday evening speech, he said the rights group had sought to offer “amnesty (to) the terrorist state and shift the blame from the aggressor to the victim”.

“There is no condition, even hypothetical, under which any Russian strike on Ukraine becomes justified. The aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terrorist,” he added.

“If someone makes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are supposed to be equal in some way…then that cannot be tolerated.”

Amnesty said a four-month investigation found the Ukrainian military had established bases in schools and hospitals and launched attacks from populated areas.

He said the tactics violated international humanitarian law and pushed back against criticism of his report.

“The findings…were based on evidence gathered during thorough investigations, subject to the same rigorous standards and due diligence processes as all of Amnesty International’s work,” he told AFP. AFP general secretary Agnès Callamard in comments by email.

– Counter-offensive –

On Friday, Zelensky’s office and local authorities reported nightly Russian shelling targeting the southern town of Mykolaiv with widely banned cluster bombs and heavy artillery – injuring 20 people, including a 14-year-old boy.

Mykolaiv is on the main route to Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port on the Black Sea, and is the closest city to the southern front.

Several missiles hit the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight and there was heavy shelling of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, in the northeast.

Ukrainian forces are conducting a counter-offensive in the south, where they claim to have taken over more than 50 villages previously controlled by Moscow.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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