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‘Radiation disaster’ narrowly avoided, says Zelensky, as one of six reactors ‘reconnected to grid’
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Nuclear power must not be used “as an instrument of war”, French president Emmanuel Macron has warned, after the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – was disconnected from the Ukrainian grid due to shelling nearby.
The United States accused Moscow of turning the plant into an “active war zone” as part of “its strategy to create an energy crisis in Europe”, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky warning that the world narrowly avoided a “radiation disaster” after electricity to the plant was cut.
Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom said one of the plant’s six reactors had been reconnected to the grid on Friday afternoon, as hopes were raised for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to be permitted to visit the plant, which was captured by Russia in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s war.
In a sign that he expects the war to grind on for months to come, Mr Putin this week signed a decree to expand the Russian army by 137,000 troops, following widespread claims that the Kremlin’s forces have suffered severe casualties over the past six months.
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Ukrainian authorities have continued search and rescue opeartions at the site of deadly missiles strike in eastern Ukraine’s Chaplyne which killed at least 22 civilians on Wednesday.
“Search and rescue operations at the railway station will continue,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in his video address.
He also vowed to make Russian forces pay for the attack on civilians and said: “We will definitely make the occupiers bear responsibility for everything they have done. And we will certainly drive the invaders out of our land. Not a single stain of this evil will remain in our free Ukraine.”
At least 22 people were killed in Ukraine’s Chaplyne after a Russian attack on a railway station in eastern Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
The rocket attack struck the town of about 3,500 people in the Dnipropetrovsk region. It came as Ukrainians across the world marked the country’s Independence Day on Wednesday.
Mr Zelensky had warned Russia may attempt “something particularly cruel” to coincide with the celebrations.
Read the full report here:
Ukrainians had been braced for increased bombardment on national holiday to mark independence from Soviet Union

The US has criticised any Russian effort which could lead to holding tribunals for Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Russian-occupied port city Mariupol and has called the proceedings “illegitimate.”
Moscow is reportedly planning to prosecute Ukrainian prisoners of war (PoWs) under conditions that could amount to war crimes.
However, US state department spokesman Ned Price said that the “planned show trials are illegitimate and a mockery of justice, and we strongly condemn them.”
“The Kremlin is attempting to deflect responsibility for President [Vladimir] Putin’s war of aggression and distract from overwhelming evidence of the atrocities Russian forces have committed in Ukraine…,” he said in a statement.
Mr Price added: “All members of Ukraine’s armed forces, including domestic and foreign volunteers incorporated into the armed forces, are entitled to prisoner of war status if they are captured and must be afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status, according to the Geneva Conventions.”
Washington has also called on Moscow to “comply with its obligations under international law.”
Ukrainian authorities said “several explosions” were heard in Kyiv Oblast’s northern district Vyshgorod early on Thursday morning around 3am.
In an update, Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said that Russia had fired a rocket attack on the district which lies to the north of the city.
“Two arrivals were recorded,” Mr Kuleba said, adding that no casualties or damage to the residential buildings and infrastructure facilities was recorded so far.
The British defence ministry has said that the Russian fighters in Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are probably prepared to exploit any Ukrainian military activity for propaganda purposes.
Russian ground forces had assaulted and seized Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) within a month of invading Ukraine, threatening the safety of the region by wresting control of the risky infrastructure.
“On 21 August 2022, imagery indicated that Russia maintained an enhanced military presence at the site, with armoured personnel carriers deployed within 60 metres of reactor number five,” the British MoD said in its latest intelligence update on Thursday.
It added that the Russian troops were likely attempting to conceal the vehicles by parking them under overhead pipes and gantries.
“While Russia maintains the military occupation of ZNPP, the principal risks to reactor operations are likely to remain disruption to the reactors’ cooling systems, damage to its back-up power supply, or errors by workers operating under pressure,” the defence ministry warned.
The six-month long war on Ukraine bleeding into its seventh month has caused at least $10.7 billion worth of environmental damage.
Ukrainian officials have recorded more than 2,000 cases of damage to nature have been recorded since 24 February, country’s ministry of environmental protection and natural resources said.
Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February this year and president Vladimir Putin has called it a “special military operation”.
Since it controlled swathes of northern Ukraine early in the war, Russia has been pushed out of an area the size of Denmark, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.
The US think tank said that Moscow, whose troops are now concentrated in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, has only gained a small amount of territory in its recent offensives.
Over the past 39 days, Russian forces have captured an area the size of Andorra, equivalent to 1 per cent of what they lost earlier in the conflict, the ISW added.
Icymi:
With its “poorly-trained” troops and their low morale, Russia is in a “very fragile position”, the UK has said.
Speaking on the six month anniversary of the Russian invasion, British defence secretary Ben Wallace said Moscow’s offensives were “grinding” to a standstill in some parts of Ukraine.
Advance of Russian troops ‘can be measured in metres, not miles’, UK defence secretary says
Google’s subsidiary Jigsaw is to start anti-disinformation campaigns in several European countries to counter bias against Ukrainian refugees.
The company will run adverts in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

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