World News: Russians barrage area near massive Ukraine nuclear plant – Boston Herald


KYIV, Ukraine — Powerful explosions from shelling shook Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the global nuclear watchdog said Sunday, calling for “urgent measures to help prevent a nuclear accident” in the Russian-occupied facility.

A heavy barrage of Russian military strikes — almost 400 on Sunday alone — also hit Ukraine’s eastern regions, and fierce ground battles shook the eastern Donetsk province, Ukraine’s president said in his evening update.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said multiple explosions near the plant — on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning — abruptly ended a period of relative calm around the nuclear facility that has been the site of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

The fighting has raised the specter of a nuclear catastrophe ever since Russian troops occupied the plant during the early days of the war.

In renewed shelling both close to and at the site, IAEA experts at the Zaporizhzhia facility reported hearing more than a dozen blasts within a short period Sunday morning and could see some explosions from their windows, the agency said.

Later in the day, the IAEA said the shelling had stopped and that its experts would assess the situation on Monday.

“There has been damage to parts of the site, but no radiation release or loss of power,” the agency said.

Still, Grossi called the shelling “extremely disturbing,” and appealed to both sides to urgently implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the facility.

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately,” he said. “As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”

Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure from the air, causing widespread blackouts and leaving millions of Ukrainians without heat, power or water as frigid cold and snow blankets the capital, Kyiv, and other cities.

Ukraine’s state nuclear power operator, Energoatom, said Russian forces were behind the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant, and that the equipment targeted was consistent with the Kremlin’s intent “to damage or destroy as much of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as possible” as winter sets in.

The weekend strikes damaged the system that would enable the plant’s power units 5 and 6 to start producing electricity again for Ukraine, the power operator said. The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine hopes to bring the two units to a minimally controlled power level to obtain steam, which is critical in winter for ensuring the safety of the plant and the surrounding area, Energoatom said.

Moscow, meanwhile, blamed Ukrainian forces for the damage. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused the Ukrainians of shelling the power plant twice on Sunday and said two shells hit near power lines supplying the plant with electricity.

Ukrainian soldiers fire an artillery at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
Ukrainian soldiers fire an artillery at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)

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