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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raises the spectre of nuclear disaster after shelling at Europe’s largest nuclear power site Zaporizhzhia in southeast Ukraine. headline news
“The world should not forget about Chernobyl and should remember that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) is the biggest in Europe. The Chernobyl disaster was an explosion of one reactor. Zaporizhzhia NPP has six reactors,” Zelensky said.
The Chernobyl power station in Soviet Ukraine was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for strikes at the plant, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the February 24 invasion. The strikes over the past few days have damaged several structures, forcing the shutdown of a reactor.
The Kremlin warns the alleged attacks could have “catastrophic consequences”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for a halt to shelling, saying any attack on a nuclear plant is “suicidal”, without saying either side is responsible.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has warned of “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.
Kyiv calls for the establishment of a demilitarised zone around the station.
- Referendum plan –
Moscow-backed authorities in the region of Zaporizhzhia say they are pressing ahead with plans to stage a referendum on joining Russia.
“I signed a decree… to start working on the issue of organising a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation,” Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-installed administration in the occupied part of the region, says on social media.
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The southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russia’s control since the first weeks of Moscow’s military campaign.
Both are now being forcefully integrated into Russia’s economy.
Russia in 2014 annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine after staging a referendum there.
- Russian tank crewman jailed –
A court in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigiv has jailed a Russian tank crewman for 10 years for firing on a multi-storied apartment block, the security service (SBU) announces.
The Chernigiv court convicts sergeant Mikhail Kulikov of a war crime after he fired at the apartment block early in the invasion.
The SBU also says it has arrested Russian agents who were planning to assassinate the defence minister and the military intelligence chief.
Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official estimates that as many as 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the war began.
- West funnels more support –
The Pentagon announces $1 billion in fresh military aid for Ukraine, including additional precision missiles for the Himars system that have helped Kyiv’s forces attack Russian troops far behind the front lines.
The package also includes more surface-to-air missiles for defense against Russian aircraft and rockets, more Javelin anti-armour rockets, and other ammunition, according to a statement from the US Department of Defense.
The World Bank says it is mobilising $4.5 billion in US-provided financial support to help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing the impacts of the invasion.
- Kherson counter-offensive –
Ukrainian forces say they have bombed a strategic bridge over the Dnipro river overnight in Kherson, as they seek to claw back the city.
The Antonovskiy bridge is the main land supply link between the city and the south bank of the Dnipro.
It was partly destroyed on July 27, forcing Russian forces to rethink supply lines and possibly resort to using pontoons to cross the water.
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