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    Fears over safety of Europe's largest nuclear plant continue to grow


    August 7, 2022 - dpa correspondents, dpa

     

      Kiev/Moscow — Fears over the safety of Europe's largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region continued to grow on Saturday, as Russian troops intensified offensives in both southern and eastern Ukraine.

      The risk of fire and radioactive fallout due to the shelling of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been the subject of increasing international concern.

      "The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is operating at risk of violating the norms of radiation and fire protection," Ukraine's state nuclear agency Enerhoatom said, adding that there remained "a risk of hydrogen leaking and radioactive particles dispersing."

      The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) repeated its demand that it be allowed to send a team to the plant, while EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that the EU condemned "Russia's military activities around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," calling Moscow's actions a "serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules."

      British intelligence suggested that the Russian troops controlling the plant may have already mined the facility. A video supposedly shot at the start of the week showed Russian military trucks driving onto the factory site and unloading goods.

      Elsewhere, the Ukrainian army reported coming under increasing Russian attack in the eastern Donetsk region, but said that it had managed to repel all Russian advances towards Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Sloviansk on Saturday.

      Fierce fighting has been raging around Bakhmut for days with pro-Russian rebels reporting that fighting was now ongoing inside the city on Friday, though the claims could not be verified.

      Bakhmut is considered a cornerstone in the defence of the last Ukrainian-held urban area in the Donbass, and its fall would give Russian troops a clear run towards the neighbouring cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian military's headquarters in the region.

      Fighting was also reportedly ongoing outside the city of Donetsk, the erstwhile regional capital, where forces loyal to Moscow were attempting to push Ukrainian troops further back from the city, which has been in the hands of pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

      British Ministry of Defence (MoD) analysts predicted on Saturday that the war was entering a "new phase," pointing to Moscow's mustering of troops in southern Ukraine ahead of an expected counter-offensive by Kiev.

      The MoD said that the conflict's heaviest fighting was now shifting southward to a 350-kilometre front line stretching from the Zaporizhzhia region to the Kherson region, parallel to the Dnieper river.

      "Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, towed artillery, and other weapons continue to move away from Ukraine's Donbass region and are headed southwest," the MoD update said.

      "Equipment was also reported to be moving from Russian-occupied Melitopol, Berdiansk, Mariupol and from mainland Russia via the Kerch Bridge into Crimea."

      The MoD said Ukrainian forces in the south of the country were attempting to disrupt Russian supply lines by blocking, disrupting or destroying rail infrastructure and bridges.

      Earlier on Saturday, the Russian Defence Ministry claimed it had killed nearly 600 Ukrainian soldiers in recent aerial and artillery strikes on the Kherson and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

      More than 400 Ukrainian troops were killed in an attack on a temporary base near the village of Bilohirka in the Kherson region, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said, adding that at least 70 other soldiers were killed and 150 wounded by missile attacks elsewhere on the Kherson front.

      Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the country's military on Saturday evening for its successful mounting of counter-attacks against Russian forces, while also stressing the vital role played by Western weaponry in the conflict.

      In the past week, the Ukrainian army had achieved "powerful results," Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

      "Every strike on the enemy's ammunition depots, on their command posts, on accumulations of Russian equipment saves the lives of all of us, the lives of Ukrainian military and civilians," Zelensky added.

      ©2022 dpa GmbH. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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