Moscow — Moscow-installed officials have rejected calls for Russian forces to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine and instead proposed a ceasefire for the embattled territory.
"The leadership of the United Nations and the chief diplomat of the EU should not be talking about demilitarization, but about introducing a ceasefire," Vladimir Rogov, a representative of the Russian occupation authorities, told Russia's state news agency Ria Novosti on Monday.
For days, Russia has held the Ukrainian side responsible for the attacks on the nuclear power plant in the city of Enerhodar, while the Ukrainians blamed the Russians.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned of a potential nuclear disaster and called for the area to be demilitarized.
On Sunday, 42 countries demanded that Russia, which currently occupies the nuclear plant, hand it over Ukraine. The demand was made on behalf of the United States, European Union, Britain, Norway, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries.
"The stationing of Russian military personnel and weapons at the nuclear facility is unacceptable," they said in a joint statement.
A civilian died and two others were injured in the most recent shelling on Sunday.
Russian authorities said "the nationalists of Ukraine" had hit the area, while the Ukrainian mayor of the city, Dmytro Orlov, spoke of a "murderous provocation" by the Russian side.
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are due to inspect the site. However, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine cannot agree on the planning for the visit.
Analysts say that a ceasefire around the Russian-occupied nuclear power station, Europe's largest, would be advantageous for the Russian troops in the region, because they would then have a safe base not far from the front.
Fighting continued on Monday, with Russia's military claiming it has killed more than 100 "foreign mercenaries" in attacks during the past 24 hours that also left more than 50 wounded in the eastern Kharkiv region, according to officials.
Those killed included Germans and Poles, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said. The figures could not be independently verified.
The Russian army attacked industrial buildings and infrastructure with missiles, Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said, though he made no mention of casualties.
Russian spokesman Konashenkov also said Moscow's forces had attacked Kherson in the south and Donetsk in the east, killing more than 420 Ukrainian soldiers.
He also said a Ukrainian command post near Bakhmut, a strategically important town in Donetsk region, had also been shelled.
The Ukrainian general staff said Ukrainian fighters repelled Russian attacks on the towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.
The generals said Kiev's forces also fought off attacks north of the city of Sloviansk and near Vuhledar. The information could not be independently verified.
The situation was particularly tense in the Kherson region and in Zaporizhzhya region, where Kiev's troops are trying to recapture towns, the Ukrainian General Staff said.
In London, British defence analysts said Russian planning for referenda in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine is at an advanced stage.
In the Donetsk region, "it is likely that Russia is in the advanced planning stages to hold a referendum, though it is unclear if the final decision to go ahead with a vote has yet been taken," the Defence Ministry in London said in its daily update.
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