Susie Blann, Associated Press
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2022 9:47 a.m. EDT
Last updated Tuesday, August 9, 2022 9:47 a.m. EDT
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 23 others injured by Russian shelling in 24 hours, including an attack near a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian president’s office reported Tuesday. .
The Russians fired more than 120 rockets from Grad multiple rocket launchers at the southern town of Nikopol, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. Several apartment buildings and industrial facilities were damaged, he said.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other in recent days of bombing the nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe, and increasing the risk of a nuclear accident.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which at the time was a Soviet republic. He called for new sanctions against Russia “for creating the threat” of another nuclear disaster.
“We are actively informing the world about Russian nuclear blackmail – about the bombing and mining of facilities at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Zelenskyy said. “Russia will not pay attention to words and concerns… The Chernobyl disaster is an explosion in a reactor; the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has six power units.
The Kremlin claimed on Monday that the Ukrainian army was attacking the factory and urged Western powers to force Kyiv to stop the activity.
A Russian-installed official in the partially occupied region of Zaporizhzhia said an air defense system at the plant would be reinforced following last week’s shelling. Evgeny Balitsky, the head of the Kremlin-backed administration, told Russian state television on Tuesday that damaged power lines and blocks at the plant had been restored.
“The plant is operating normally, but, of course, with an increased degree of security,” Balitsky said.
A Ukrainian counter-offensive and Russian defensive actions in the occupied areas increasingly drew firepower towards southern Ukraine.
Drones play a crucial role in Ukraine’s military operations in the southern Mykolaiv region, where Russian bombardment has intensified in recent weeks.
The leader of a Ukrainian reconnaissance team called ‘Fireflies’ – which goes by the nom de guerre ‘Baton’ – said his unit was using drones to monitor and combat any Russian attempts to seize more territory in the region .
‘It’s artillery and drone warfare,’ Baton told reporters, as he watched smoke rise after an attack on a Russian position a few miles away on a monitor with the stream sent from the vehicle.
The drones are the only “eyes,” Baton said.
After failing to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, at the start of the war, the Russian army focused its efforts on trying to capture the entire eastern region of Donbass. Pro-Moscow separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in the region for eight years and control some territories as self-declared republics.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Russian forces had made the most progress in the past month moving towards the town of Bakhmut – an advance limited to around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
“In other areas of Donbass where Russia was trying to break through, its forces did not gain more than 3 km during this 30-day period; almost certainly much less than expected,” the UK ministry said.
However, the ministry warned that despite the attention required in southern Ukraine, Russia had maintained attacks on Ukrainian positions in the east.
The governor of Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said the Russians were trying to bolster their offensive in several areas. Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, has come under four Russian bombardments in the past 24 hours, and some infrastructure in the city has been damaged.