Ukraine targets Russian soldiers accused of threatening nuclear power plant

KYIV (REUTERS) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Russian soldiers who fire on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant or use it as a base for firing that they will become a “special target” for Ukrainian forces.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the creation of a demilitarized zone at the factory in Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine, amid fears of a nuclear disaster following renewed bombings recent days, for which Russia and Ukraine blame each other.

Mr Zelensky, who gave no details, repeated that he considered Russia to be using the plant, which it captured at the start of the war but is still run by Ukrainians, as nuclear blackmail.

“Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the factory, or shoots using the factory as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” he said. he said Saturday evening in an address. .

The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the southern bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River.

Ukrainian forces controlling towns and cities on the opposite bank came under intense Russian bombardment.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the part of the nuclear power plant where the energy that supplies southern Ukraine is generated”.

“The goal is to disconnect us from (the factory) and blame it on the Ukrainian military,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

A foreman who worked at the plant was killed by Russian shelling on Sunday while walking his dog near his home in the town of Enerhodar, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company Energoatom said.

Russian-installed local official Vladimir Rogov wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces shelled the town and were responsible for the man’s death.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is seeking to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless the fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear the fighting could damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors.

As the fighting continued, more ships carrying Ukrainian grain left or prepared to leave as part of a late-July deal to ease a global food crisis.

A shipment bound for Ethiopia, the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is set to leave in the coming days, while sources said the first grain ship to leave Ukraine in framework of a UN agreement was approaching Syria.

“The world needs food from Ukraine. This is the start of what we hope will be normal operations for the world’s starving people,” Ms. Marianne Ward, deputy director of the World Food Programme, told reporters. The relief agency purchased more than 800,000 tonnes of grain from Ukraine last year.

Kyiv has said for weeks that it is planning a counteroffensive to retake Zaporizhzhia and neighboring Kherson provinces, most of the territory seized by Russia after its Feb. 24 invasion and still in Russian hands.

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