KYIV: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday (Aug 6) accused Russia of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “for terror” after the operator of the facility reported major damage at the site.
Energoatom, operator of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south of the country, said on Saturday that parts of the facility had been “seriously damaged” by military strikes and one of its reactors was forced to shut down.
Friday’s strikes had damaged a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an auxiliary building, Energoatom said on the Telegram messaging service.
As hostilities raged on in the east and south of Ukraine, pro-Moscow authorities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region reported another assassination attempt on a senior official.
And the head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office announced she had resigned from the organisation over the group’s publication of a controversial report that accused the country’s military of endangering civilians.
Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest atomic power complex.
Zelenskyy, in his nightly address on Saturday, once again accused Moscow of terrorism, saying, “Russian terrorists became the first in the world to use the power plant… for terror.”
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned the attack “as a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms”.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog also expressed alarm. The strikes underline “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster”, said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
ANOTHER ASSASSINATION BID
An official with the Russian occupying authorities in Kherson was gravely wounded on Saturday in an attempted assassination, local Moscow-backed officials said.
Vitaly Gur “is in hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, in a critical state”, an unnamed official told Russian state news agency TASS. Gur is the deputy chief of the Kakhovka district, some 80km (50 miles) east of Kherson city.
This was the latest in a series of reported assassination attempts against officials in Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia.
Although Russia has seized a large swath of the Kherson region and part of nearby Zaporizhzhia in recent months, Ukraine’s forces have reclaimed some territory.
In his address on Saturday, Zelenskyy hit out at Amnesty International, comparing the rights group’s accusations against Ukraine’s military with its silence on Russia’s actions.
Referring to the strikes on the Zaporizhzhia plant, he said that although they represented “one of the most dangerous crimes against Ukrainians and all Europeans… for some reason, there’s still no report or even just a simple message from Amnesty International about it.
“It’s a very eloquent silence, which points out, once more, a manipulative selectivity of this organisation,” he added.
Amnesty sparked outrage in Ukraine with the report published on Thursday that accused the military of endangering civilians by establishing bases in schools and hospitals, and launching counterattacks from heavily populated areas.