Ukraine warns of ‘nuclear terrorism’ after attack near plant

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – A Russian missile blew up a crater near a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, damaging nearby industrial equipment but not hitting its three reactors. The Ukrainian authorities condemned the move, describing it as an act of “nuclear terrorism”.

The missile struck within 300 meters (328 yards) of the reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Yuzhnokransk in Mykolaiv Province, leaving a crater 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) deep and 4 meters (13 feet) wide. According to the Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom.

She added that the reactors were operating normally and no employees were injured. But the imminence of the strike renewed fears of Russia’s nearly seven-month-old war In Ukraine may produce a radiological disaster.

This nuclear power plant is the second largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine after the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has repeatedly come under fire..

After recent setbacks on the battlefieldRussian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened to escalate Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Throughout the war, Russia targeted electricity generation and transmission equipment in Ukraine, causing blackouts and endangering the security systems of the country’s nuclear power plants.

The industrial complex that includes the Southern Ukraine factory is located along the Southern Bug River about 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of the capital, Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities said the attack caused a temporary shutdown of a nearby hydroelectric power plant and smashed more than 100 windows in the complex. The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said three power lines had been cut off but later reconnected.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released a black and white video showing two large incendiary balls exploding one by one in the dark, followed by glowing showers of sparks, at 19 minutes past midnight. The ministry and Energoatom described the strike as “nuclear terrorism.”

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

Russian forces occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, since early after the invasion. The bombing cut off the plant’s transmission lines, forcing operators to shut down its six reactors To avoid radiation disaster. Russia and Ukraine traded blame for the strikes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has placed monitors at the Zaporizhzhya plant, said The main transmission line has been reconnected Friday, providing the electricity it needs to cool its reactors.

But the mayor of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhya plant is located, reported more Russian bombing on Monday in the city’s industrial zone.

While Putin warned on Friday of the possibility of an escalation of strikes, he claimed that his forces had acted with restraint so far, but warned that “if the situation develops in this way, our response will be more serious.”

“Recently, the Russian armed forces have launched a few impressive strikes,” he said. “Let’s consider these warning strikes.”

The Ukrainian presidential office said, on Monday, that the latest Russian bombing killed at least eight civilians and wounded 22 others. The governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, which is now largely back in the hands of the Ukrainians, said that Russian bombing killed four medical workers as they tried to evacuate patients from a psychiatric hospital and injured two patients.

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

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Patricia Lewis is director of international security research at Chatham House think tank in London Attacks on the Zaporizhzhia factory Monday’s raid on the Southern Ukraine plant indicated that the Russian military was trying to disable Ukraine’s nuclear plants before winter.

“It’s a very dangerous and illegal act to target a nuclear plant,” Lewis told The Associated Press. “Only the generals know the intent, but there is clearly a certain pattern.”

“It seems like what they do every single time is try to cut off the power to the reactor,” she said. “It’s a very clumsy way to do it, because how accurate are these missiles?”

Energy is required to run the pumps that distribute cooling water to the reactors, preventing overheating and – in the worst case scenario – radiation-induced breakdown of nuclear fuel.

Other recent Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure have targeted power plants in the north and a dam in the south. They came in response to a sweeping counterattack in the east of the country that regained the Russian-occupied lands in the Kharkiv region.

Analysts note that besides reclaiming land, challenges remain in controlling it. In a video address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said vaguely about the effort, “I cannot reveal all the details, but thanks to Ukraine’s Security Service, we are now confident that the occupiers will have no foothold on Ukrainian territory.”

Ukraine’s successes in Kharkiv – Russia’s biggest defeat since its forces were pushed back from Kyiv’s vicinity in the first phase of the invasion – have drawn rare public criticism in Russia and increased military and diplomatic pressure on Putin. Nationalist Kremlin critics have questioned why Moscow has failed to plunge Ukraine into darkness so far by striking all major nuclear power plants.

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In other developments:

– A governor said Ukraine had regained control of the village of Belogorivka in the Russian-occupied eastern Luhansk region. Russia has not acknowledged this claim.

Russia-installed leaders of the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions repeated their calls on Monday for referendums to formally link their regions to Russia. These officials have discussed such plans before, but referendums have been repeatedly delayed, possibly due to insufficient public support.

— The Supreme Court of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region convicted a former translator of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and another person whose duties were not specified of high treason on Monday. Both were sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The Baltic states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have closed their borders Monday to most Russian citizens in response to Russia’s domestic support for the war in Ukraine. Poland will join the ban on September 26.

– The great pop star Alla Pugacheva became the most prominent Russian celebrity criticizing the war, Description of Russia in an Instagram post on Sunday As a “pari” and says her soldiers are dying for “imaginary goals”. Valery Fadeev, head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council, accused Pugacheva of honestly citing humanitarian concerns to justify her criticism and predicted that famous artists like her would have less influence on the public after the war.

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Journalist John Lister contributed to Le Bec, France.

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Follow the Associated Press’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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