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Russia says Ukraine attack hits Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

In News, World
April 07, 2024

Ukraine has struck the dome above a shutdown reactor at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, the plant’s Russian-installed administration said.

It was not immediately clear what weapon was used in Sunday’s attack against the nuclear plant, which was taken by Russian forces shortly after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, although the Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom said the site had come under a drone attack.

Radiation levels were normal and there was no serious damage after the attack, according to the plant’s officials. But Rosatom later said that three people had been wounded, specifically in a drone strike near the site’s canteen.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts at the site, said it had been informed by the Russian-run plant that a drone had detonated at the site and the information was “consistent” with IAEA observations.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has warned both sides to refrain from actions that “jeopardise nuclear safety”.

The nuclear plant, which is the largest in Europe, has six Soviet-designed VVER-1000 V-320 water-cooled and water-moderated reactors containing uranium-235. There is also spent nuclear fuel at the facility.

Reactors number one, two, five and six are in cold shutdown, while reactor number three is shut down for repair and number four is in so-called “hot shutdown”, according to the plant’s administration.

The plant remains close to the front lines, and both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused the other of attacking the plant and so risking a possible nuclear disaster.

Front-line fighting

Earlier on Sunday, a woman was killed when shrapnel from a downed Ukrainian drone hit a car travelling in Russia’s Belgorod region, according to the local Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, Gladkov said that four more people, including two children, had been wounded after air defences downed four Ukrainian drones on the approach to Belgorod city.

The Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, has come under regular attack from Kyiv’s forces since 2022, with 25 people killed in a single missile strike on Belgorod city in December.

Russia’s army on Sunday said that it had destroyed 15 Ukrainian drones over its border in Belgorod and in the Bryansk region.

The army added that 12 of the 15 drones were destroyed over the Belgorod region.

Ukraine has for months launched drone attacks on several border areas as it tries to push back Russia’s advancing forces.

“Ukrainian drones destroy the occupiers. They protect the lives of our soldiers on the front lines. And they help Ukraine decrease Russiaʼs war potential,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a post on the social media platform X on Saturday.

“In the sky and at sea, our drones have demonstrated that Ukrainian strength can defeat Russian evil,” he added.

However, Zelenskyy also highlighted that Russian attacks continue in front-line regions like Kharkiv and Zaporizhia.

On Sunday, Kyiv said that a Russian strike on the town of Huliaipole in the southern Zaporizhia region killed three people.

“Two men and a woman died under the rubble of their own private house, which was hit by a Russian shell,” the head of the region, Ivan Fedorov, said on social media.

Officials added that a woman was also killed in the city of Kupiansk, in the northeastern Kharkiv region that has seen increased attacks in recent months.

Meanwhile in the main city of Kharkiv, Kyiv said Russia launched another attack on Sunday, wounding five civilians, a day after a deadly attack there.

On Saturday, two Russian strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killed eight civilians and injured at least 10 people, according to regional officials.

“We must put an end to this terror,” Zelenskyy said.

On Sunday, during a video meeting of the Kyiv-organised fundraising platform United24, Zelenskyy said that it was crucial for the US Congress to approve military aid to Ukraine, as the war continues to rage.

“It is necessary to specifically tell Congress that if Congress does not help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” he said.

“If Ukraine loses the war, other states will be attacked.”

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