Ukraine’s Atomic Energy Agency has accused Russia of using Europe’s largest nuclear power plant to store weapons and shell the areas surrounding Nikopol and Dnipro, which were hit on Saturday.
Petr Kotin, president of the Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom, called the situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant “extremely tense” with up to 500 Russian soldiers controlling the plant.
The plant in southeastern Ukraine has been under Russian control since the first weeks of Moscow’s invasion, although it still employs Ukrainian employees.
“The occupiers are transferring their equipment there, including missile systems, from which they are already shelling the other bank of the Dnieper and the territory of Nikopol,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian television, which was broadcast on Friday.
On Saturday, Russian rockets hit residential buildings in the city of Nikopol, killing two people, said the governor of the Dnipro region, Valentin Reznichenko.
Governor Oleg Sinegubov said that in the northeastern region around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, Russia’s overnight rocket attack on the city of Chuhuiv killed three people.
In the central Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa, officials said the death toll from Russian strikes had risen to 24 after a woman died in a hospital on Saturday from her injuries. Ukraine reports that three children are among the dead.
Treatment continues 68 people, including four children. Four people are still missing,” said the head of the Vinnitsa region, Sergei Borzov.
Outpouring for a four year old
President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of seeking to “cause maximum damage to Ukrainian cities.”
“I urge you once again: please do not ignore the air raid alerts now,” he said in his daily address on Friday.
Russia said strikes on Vinnitsa, hundreds of kilometers from the front line, killed Ukrainian military and foreign arms suppliers.
But Ukraine said the dead included four-year-old Liza Dmitrieva, who had Down syndrome and whose death sparked an outpouring after footage of her final moments went viral on social media.
Officials initially believed that Lisa’s mother had also been killed, but have since confirmed that she is in a “critical” condition following surgery.
The rocket attacks on Vinnytsia were the latest attacks to cause heavy civilian casualties and came less than a week after the strikes on Chasovoy Yar in the Donetsk region, which killed about 50 people.
“I have no words to describe the horror I experienced today,” Anastasia said after rockets fell near her home in Kramatorsk, a major city and administrative center of Donbass, on Friday.
“It’s good that he fell outside and didn’t fly into the house. It was lucky. “
“Cleaning” the city of Donbass
Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, and the conflict has claimed thousands of lives, destroyed cities and forced millions to flee their homes.
The fiercest fighting of recent times has been in the Donbass industrial region to the east, where grueling trench-fighting and artillery duels turn into a war of attrition.
On Friday, Britain said the Kremlin “must bear full responsibility” for the death of a British prisoner in eastern Ukraine.
“I am appalled by reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey while he was in the custody of a Russian proxy in Ukraine,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
The Moscow-backed separatists said Friday they are closing in on their next target, Seversk, after wresting control of the twin cities of Lisichansk and Severodonetsk about 30 kilometers to the east.
And the official representative of the Donetsk separatists, Daniil Versonov, said that the militants were “cleansing” the eastern districts of Seversk in small groups.
Ukraine has repeatedly called on allies to supply it with advanced, long-range precision artillery systems that would allow it to strike Russian forces deeper in Ukrainian-held territory.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Friday that Ukraine received its first batch of sophisticated M270 missile systems, adding to a growing arsenal of Western artillery that Kyiv says is changing battlefield dynamics.