Kyiv and Moscow blame each other for deadly shelling near Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant

United Nations called for Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant site to be demilitarised


Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for deadly shelling near Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, after the United Nations called for the site to be demilitarised and Ukraine said all Russian troops using the facility as cover would be “special targets” for its forces.

One civilian was killed on Sunday in Enerhodar, location of the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant which is being run by Ukrainian technicians overseen by Russian troops who seized the site in southeastern Ukraine in March.

Russia and Ukraine accused each other of launching the attack, as they have for several other recent artillery strikes that have damaged power lines and radiation sensors and injured at least one worker at the plant by the Dnieper river, which has six nuclear reactors.


“The occupiers are trying to intimidate people in an extremely cynical way, using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who accused Russia of “hiding behind the plant” to fire at Kyiv-controlled towns across the river.

“They arrange constant provocations with shelling of the territory of the nuclear power plant and try to bring their additional forces in this direction to blackmail our state and the entire free world even more,” he added.

“All officials of the terrorist state, as well as those who help them in this blackmail operation with the nuclear power plant, must be tried by an international court … And every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots under the cover of the plant, must understand that he is becoming a special target for our intelligence, for our secret service, for our army.”

Russian officials insist Ukrainian forces are shelling the site and say they are ready to facilitate a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its monitors to visit Enerhodar as soon as possible.

UN secretary general António Guterres called last week “for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately” and for the establishment of a “safe perimeter of demilitarisation to ensure the safety of the area.”

Ukraine is using powerful and accurate western-supplied rocket systems to put pressure on Moscow’s invasion force in southeastern Ukraine, and claims to have destroyed numerous Russian command posts and arms and fuel depots far behind the frontline in recent weeks.

Kyiv’s military said on Sunday it had launched another strike on the Antonivskiy road bridge that is a key route for Russian supplies moving from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, to recently occupied areas of the Kherson region of southeastern Ukraine.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s southern command, said government forces had also damaged two other major bridges in the area, making it hard if not impossible for Russia to use them to move armour and other heavy vehicles.

A UN-chartered cargo ship loaded with 23,000 tonnes of grain was preparing to set sail for Ethiopia on Sunday from the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne, under a deal agreed in late July to end a five-month blockade of country’s Black Sea coast by the Russian navy.

Sixteen ships have now departed Ukraine under the agreement, which is overseen by monitors based in Istanbul and is intended to bring tens of millions of tonnes of trapped Ukrainian grain to market, easing food price inflation and fears of hunger in parts of Africa and Asia.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe