Ukraine warns of 'nuclear terrorism' after strike near factory

Ukraine warns of ‘nuclear terrorism’ after strike near factory

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile blasted a crater near a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, damaging nearby industrial equipment but missing three of its reactors. Ukrainian authorities condemned the move as an act of “nuclear terrorism”.

The missile hit within 300 meters (328 yards) of the reactor of the Southern Ukraine nuclear power plant near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province, leaving a hole 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) deep and 4 meters (13 feet) wide, according to Ukraine According to nuclear operator Energoatom.

The reactor was operating normally and no employees were injured, it said. But the looming strike has reignited fears of Russia’s nearly seven-month war. A possible radiation disaster in Ukraine.

The nuclear power plant is the second largest in Ukraine, after the repeatedly attacked Zaporozhye nuclear power plant..

After recent battlefield setbacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened to intensify Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s infrastructure. Throughout the war, Russia has targeted Ukrainian power generation and transmission equipment, causing blackouts and compromising the safety systems of the country’s nuclear power plants.

The industrial complex, which includes the South Ukrainian factory, is located along the South Bug River, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of the capital, Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities said the attack temporarily shut down a nearby hydroelectric power plant and shattered more than 100 windows in the complex. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said three power lines were cut but were later reconnected.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense released a black-and-white video showing two large fireballs erupting one after the other in the darkness, followed by a shower of incandescent sparks 19 minutes after midnight. The ministry and Energoatom dubbed the attack “nuclear terrorism”.

The Russian Defense Ministry had no immediate comment on the attack.

Since shortly after the invasion, Russian forces have occupied the largest Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in Europe.Shelling cut power lines at the plant, forcing operators to shut down six of its reactors to avoid a radiation catastrophe. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the strike.

IAEA deploys monitors at Zaporozhye plant, says main transmission lines reconnected On Friday, the electricity needed to cool the reactor was provided.

But the mayor of Enehodar, where the Zaporozhye plant is located, reported Monday that there had been more shelling by Russia in the city’s industrial zone.

Putin warned on Friday of a possible increase in strikes, but claimed his troops had so far been restrained, but warned that “if the situation develops like this, our response will be more severe.”

“Just recently, the Russian armed forces have carried out several influential strikes,” he said. “Let’s take these as warning strikes.”

The latest Russian shelling killed at least eight civilians and wounded 22, Ukraine’s president’s office said on Monday. The governor of the northeastern region of Kharkiv, now largely back in Ukrainian hands, said the Russian shelling killed four medics trying to evacuate patients from a mental hospital and wounded two.

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

Patricia Lewis, director of international security research at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the Zaporozhye factory was attacked Monday’s attack on a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine showed that the Russian military is trying to shut down Ukraine’s nuclear power plant by winter.

“Targeting a nuclear power plant is very, very dangerous and illegal,” Lewis told The Associated Press. “Only the generals know where they’re coming, but there’s clearly a pattern.”

“They seem to be trying to cut power to the reactor every time,” she said. “It’s a very clumsy approach, because how accurate are these missiles?”

Electricity is needed to run the pumps that circulate cooling water to the reactors to prevent overheating and – in the worst case – melting of the nuclear fuel ejected by radiation.

Other recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure have targeted power plants in the north and a dam in the south. They were responding to Ukraine’s full-scale counterattack in the east of the country, taking back Russian-occupied territory in the Kharkiv region.

Analysts note that, in addition to retaking the territory, challenges remain for maintaining it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said vaguely about the effort in a video address on Monday, “I cannot reveal all the details, but thanks to the Ukrainian Security Service, we now believe that the occupiers will not gain a foothold on Ukrainian soil.”

Ukraine’s victory in Kharkiv — Russia’s biggest defeat since its troops were pushed back around Kyiv at the start of the invasion — sparked a rare public criticism in Russia and increased military and diplomatic pressure on Putin. Nationalist critics of the Kremlin have questioned why Moscow has failed to keep Ukraine in the dark by cracking down on all of its major nuclear power plants.

In other developments:

– Ukraine has recaptured the Russian-occupied village of Bilogorivka in the eastern region of Luhansk, a governor said. Russia has not acknowledged the claim.

— The Russian-appointed leaders of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions renewed their call for a referendum on Monday to formally link their regions to Russia. The officials have discussed such plans before, but the referendum has been repeatedly delayed, possibly because of a lack of popular support.

— The Supreme Court of Russia’s occupied Luhansk region on Monday convicted a former OSCE translator and another of unspecified duties of treason. Both were sentenced to 13 years in prison.

– Baltic states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania closed their borders On Monday, most Russian citizens responded to Russian domestic support for the war in Ukraine. Poland will join the ban on September 26.

– Super-pop star Alla Pugacheva became the most famous Russian celebrity to criticize the war, Describing Russia in Instagram post on Sunday as “untouchables” and said its soldiers were dying for “illusory targets”. Valery Fadeyev, head of Russia’s presidential human rights commission, accused Pugacheva of hypocritically citing humanitarian issues to justify her criticism and predicted that pop artists like her would experience less public influence after the war.

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Associated Press reporter John Leicester in Le Pecq, France contributed.

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Follow AP war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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