- Russians Threatening Zaporizhzhya Are “Special Targets”
- G7 countries call on Moscow to withdraw troops from factory
- Fear of Nuclear Disasters Unless the Fighting Stops
- Russia warns it could sever bilateral ties with the United States
- More grain ships depart from Ukraine
KYIV, Aug. 14 (Reuters) – Ukraine targets Russian soldiers shooting at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant or using it as a base to fire, as G7 countries, fearing a nuclear disaster, called on Moscow to withdraw its troops from the factory .
Ukraine and Russia have exchanged allegations over multiple incidents of shelling at the Zaporizhzhya facility in southern Ukraine. Russian troops captured the station early in the war.
“Any Russian soldier who either fires at the factory, or uses the factory as cover, must understand that he is becoming a special target for our intelligence services, for our special services, for our army,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an evening address. on Saturday.
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Zelenskiy, who gave no details, reiterated the claim that Russia was using the plant as nuclear blackmail.
The plant dominates the southern shore of a huge reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling villages and towns across the street have been heavily bombed by the Russian side. read more
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the part of the nuclear power plant that generates the energy that powers southern Ukraine”.
“The goal is to disconnect us from the (factory) and blame the Ukrainian military for this,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which plans to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless the fighting stops. Core experts fear that fighting could damage the nuclear fuel pools of the plant or the reactors.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has called for the creation of a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhya facility, which is still run by Ukrainian technicians.
Kiev has said for weeks that it is planning a counter-offensive to retake Zaporizhzhya and neighboring Kherson provinces, most of the territory Russia seized after the February 24 invasion that is still in Russian hands.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have previously fought for control of Chernobyl, the still radioactive site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, also raising fears of disaster.
DIPLOMATIC RIFT DEEPER
The Russian invasion, which it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its smaller neighbor, has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to an all-time low, with Russia warning it could sever ties.
The United States has led Ukraine’s western allies by providing it with weapons to defend itself and punitive sanctions against Moscow.
A senior Russian official on Friday said Moscow had told Washington that if the US Senate passes a bill designating Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, diplomatic relations would be seriously damaged and could even be broken.
On Saturday, a senior official at the Russian Foreign Ministry warned that any seizure of Russian assets by the United States would completely destroy bilateral relations, TASS reported.
“We are warning Americans of the damaging consequences of such actions that will permanently damage bilateral relations, which is neither in their interest nor in our interest,” said Alexander Darchiev, head of the ministry’s North American branch. It was not clear which assets he was referring to.
Darchiev said US influence over Ukraine had increased to such an extent that “Americans are increasingly becoming a direct party to the conflict.”
The United States and Europe, wary of being dragged directly into the war, have rejected Ukraine’s request to establish a no-fly zone to protect its airspace from Russian missiles and warplanes.
UKRAINE GRAIN SHIPS
Two other ships carrying grain left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Saturday, the Turkish defense ministry said, bringing the number of ships scheduled to depart to 16 under a UN-brokered deal aimed in part at easing a global food crisis.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said on Saturday that 16 ships carrying 450,000 tons of agricultural products have departed from Ukrainian seaports since early August under the deal, which ensured safe passage for ships.
The agreement, signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN in July, amid warnings of possible famine outbreaks, allowed grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to resume after being shut down for five months as a result of the war.
Zelenskiy said Ukraine had managed to export the same amount of grain from three ports in less than two weeks as by road in July.
“This has already made it possible to reduce the severity of the food crisis,” he said on Saturday.
Ukraine hopes to increase its maritime exports to more than 3 million tons of grain and other agricultural products per month in the near future.
Ukraine and Russia are major grain exporters. The blockade of Ukrainian ports has left tens of millions of grain stranded in the country, raising fears of severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world. read more
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Reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Reuters offices; Written by Michael Perry; Editing by William Mallard
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