UN nuclear chief condemns strikes against Ukrainian power plant

UN nuclear chief condemns strikes against Ukrainian power plant


The UN nuclear regulator on Sunday denounced “targeted” attacks on the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine and called for a “stop to this madness” while Kyiv and Moscow shared blame.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has denied Russian accusations that it executed surrendered soldiers.

“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely worrying,” Rafael Grossi, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement on Sunday.

“Explosions occurred at the site of this large nuclear power plant, which is totally unacceptable.

“Whoever is behind this needs to stop immediately,” he added.

“Like I’ve said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”

In the night from Saturday to Sunday there were more than a dozen explosions, some of which a team of experts from the agency saw for themselves on site, the IAEA said in a statement.

In a later conversation with the French broadcaster BFMTV, Grossi made it clear that the strikes at the plant were not an accident.

“The people who do it know what they’re hitting. It’s absolutely conscious, purposeful.”

The IAEA is to send a team of experts to the facility, the largest nuclear facility in Europe currently controlled by Russian troops.

– “Staged Capitulation” –

Ukraine, meanwhile, has denied Russian accusations that its soldiers killed Russian troops in the surrender, in what Moscow called a “war crime”.

Excerpts from the video footage in question showed that Russian forces had indeed used a “staged surrender” to open fire on Ukrainian soldiers, Dmytro Lubinets, the parliament’s human rights commissioner, said on Sunday.

“In this case, individuals among the Russian soldiers cannot be considered prisoners of war, but are those who fight and commit treason,” he added.

“Returning fire is not a war crime. On the contrary, those who want to use the protection of international law to kill must be punished.”

Video footage circulated on Russian social media last week is said to show the bodies of Russian soldiers killed after surrendering to Ukrainian troops.

AFP has not independently confirmed the videos.

A UN spokesman told AFP on Friday he was “aware of the videos” and “is reviewing them”.

– Russian shelling –

In the southern city of Kherson, recently recaptured by Ukrainian troops, residents faced a new challenge after eight months of occupation by Moscow’s troops – Russian artillery barrages.

After Russian shells hit the industrial area next to their home and set fire to an oil depot there, Yuri Mosolov and his wife decided it was time to leave.

“After yesterday’s shelling, my wife said, ‘Let’s not take too many risks and go,'” Mosolov told AFP.

A carefully planned campaign by Kiev, targeting logistics networks, bridges and pontoon crossings, smashed Russian supply lines and forced its troops to abandon the city and retreat to the east bank of the Dnieper.

Now the armies are increasingly engaging in the exchange of heavy artillery across the river.

“Artillery duels still happen. The fight goes on,” said Dmytro Pletenchuk, spokesman for the Ukrainian military in the region. “Kherson is now at the front.”

Elsewhere near Kherson, Russian strikes struck near a humanitarian aid distribution area in the village of Bilozerka, forcing residents to flee on Saturday.

– peace conditions –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address that there were almost 400 Russian attacks in the east of the country alone on Sunday.

The fiercest fighting has been fought in the eastern Donetsk region, one that Russia is now claiming as its own. Fighting also continued in neighboring Lugansk.

Teams are working around the clock to repair damage to energy infrastructure caused by Russia’s artillery bombardment — yet “stabilization blackouts” are needed in 15 regions, including Kyiv, he added.

And he once again laid out Kiev’s peace terms, which include food and energy security, the release of all prisoners and deportees, and the withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian territory.

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