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Russia demands attack on nuclear power plant, Ukraine trade

Ukraine’s Atomic Energy Agency on Sunday painted an ominous picture of the threat posed by radiation from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, issuing a map.

Ukraine’s Atomic Energy Agency on Sunday painted an ominous picture of the threat posed by radiation from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, issuing a map.

Russia and Ukraine on Sunday traded claims of rocket and artillery strikes at or near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, intensifying fears that the war could lead to a massive radiation leak.

Ukraine’s nuclear power agency on Sunday issued a map forecasting the threat posed by radiation from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces have controlled since the war began.

Attacks were reported over the weekend not only in Russian-controlled areas adjacent to the plant on the left bank of the Dnieper River, but also along the Ukrainian-controlled right bank, including the towns of Nikopol and Marhanet, each about 10 kilometers (six miles) wide. ) from the facility.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Sunday that Ukrainian forces had attacked the plant twice in the past day and that shells had fallen near buildings that store reactor fuel and radioactive waste.

“One projectile fell in the area of ​​the sixth power unit and five others fell in front of the sixth unit pumping station, which provides cooling for this reactor,” Konashenkov said, adding that radiation levels were normal.

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency also reported Sunday that radiation levels were normal, two of the Zaporizhia plant’s six reactors were operating and, although no full assessment had yet been made, a water pipeline damaged in the recent fighting has since been repaired.

In another apparent attack on Sunday, Russian forces shot down an armed Ukrainian drone targeting a fuel storage site at the Zaporizhia plant, a local official said. Russian-installed regional official Vladimir Rogov said on the Telegram messaging app that the drone crashed on the roof of a building, causing no significant damage or injuries.

Nearby, heavy shelling overnight left parts of Nikopol without power, Dnipropetrovsk Region Governor Valentin Reznichenko said. According to Yevgen Yevtushenko, the administrative chief of the district, which includes a town of about 45,000, the rocket attack damaged a dozen residences in Marhanet.

The Russian city of Zaporizhia, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) up the Dnieper River from the nuclear plant, was also hit by the fire, damaging dozens of apartment buildings and houses and injuring two people, city council member Anatoly Kurtev said. Russian forces hit a Zaporizhia repair shop for Ukrainian air force helicopters, Konashenkov said.

Neither party’s claims could be independently verified.

Downriver from the nuclear plant, Ukrainian rockets hit the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant and an adjacent town three times on Sunday, said Vladimir Leontiev, the head of the Russian-run local administration.

The plant’s dam is a major thoroughfare across the river and a potential key Russian supply route. The dam creates a reservoir that supplies water for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

Radiation maps issued by Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom show that, based on Monday’s wind forecast, a nuclear cloud could spread across southern Ukraine and southwestern Russia. The release of the map may be intended to warn that their own country will suffer if Russian forces are responsible for the radiation leak. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, the world’s worst nuclear power disaster, radiation spread from Ukraine to several neighboring countries.

Authorities last week began distributing iodine tablets to residents living near the Zaporizhia plant in case of radiation exposure. Much of the concern centers on cooling systems for the plant’s nuclear reactors. The systems require electricity, and the plant was temporarily knocked offline Thursday after officials said the fire damaged a transmission line. A cooling system failure can lead to a nuclear meltdown.

Power plant infrastructure has been damaged by intermittent shelling, Energoatom, said on Saturday.

“There is a risk of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive material and the risk of fire is high,” it said.

The IAEA has tried to reach an agreement with Ukrainian and Russian authorities to send a team to inspect and secure the plant, but it is unclear when the visit might take place.

In eastern Ukraine, where Russian and separatist forces are trying to take control, shelling hit the large and strategically important cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, with no casualties reported, Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko said. Konashenkov said Russian missile strikes killed 250 Ukrainian soldiers and reservists in and around Sloviansk. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the claims, in keeping with their policy of not discussing damages.

Sloviansk resident Kostiantyn Dyneko told The Associated Press that he was asleep when an explosion blew out the windows in his apartment.

“I opened my eyes and saw window frames, frames and pieces of broken glass flying at me,” he said.

Russian and separatist forces occupy most of the Donetsk region, recognized as a sovereign state between the two Russias.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi vowed to retake separatist territories on Sunday.

“The invaders have brought degradation and death and they believe they are there forever,” Zelensky said in his late-night video address on Sunday. “But it is temporary for them. Ukraine will return. Confirmed. Life will return.”

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