(Kyiv) Ukraine on Monday accused Russia of bombing the site of a nuclear power plant in the south of the country, raising fears once again that this war could lead to a major atomic incident.
Posted at 6:30 a.m.
Updated at 9:03 a.m.
France Media Agency
This Ukrainian nuclear site is the third to be drawn into the war launched by Russia in February against Ukraine, and this, despite multiple calls from the international community to spare such infrastructure so as not to cause a continental catastrophe.
Moscow for its part denounced Monday the “lie” of Ukraine three days after the discovery of hundreds of bodies buried in the forest near the city of Izium recently taken over from the Russian army. Kyiv accused the Russian army of abuses.
Reacting to the missile strike that hit the site of the Pivdennoukrainsk power plant, in the Mykolaiv region (south), President Volodymyr Zelensky judged that Russia was endangering “the whole world”.
“We have to stop it until it’s too late,” he said on Telegram, posting surveillance video showing a large explosion.
According to the operator Energoatom, “a powerful explosion occurred just 300 meters from the reactors” of this plant, lending it to a night strike from a Russian missile.
260 kilometers as the crow flies to the west, another Ukrainian nuclear power plant, that of Zaporizhia, the largest in Europe and occupied by Russian troops since the first weeks of the invasion, has been targeted in numerous repeated by bombardments in recent months causing great concern.
Kyiv and Moscow blame each other and accuse each other of nuclear blackmail. However, the situation there has improved in recent days, and the plant has been reconnected to the Ukrainian electricity grid.
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an organization which has had observers on site since early September, called on Russia to withdraw.
At the start of the Russian invasion, Moscow forces also occupied the site of the Chernobyl power plant (north), one of whose reactors exploded in 1986, causing radioactive fallout in much of Europe.
The occupation of the site had raised fears for the safety of the damaged reactor’s containment sarcophagus. Russian forces finally withdrew in the spring after the failed offensive on Kyiv.
In Pivdennoukraïnsk, the plant was operating normally on Monday morning despite the missile strike which blew out a hundred windows and caused a brief disconnection of three high-voltage lines.
The bombardment comes as Russian forces went on a string of failures in September, with their retreat from a large part of the country’s northeast in the face of a lightning Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region. Troops from Kyiv also regained ground, but more slowly, in the south.
For several days, however, the Ukrainian advance has slowed down. President Zelensky insisted on Sunday evening that it was “not a pause”, but “preparing the next steps”, with Russia controlling a large part of Donbass (east) and the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia ( south), after having annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.
Tortures and “lies”
In the Kharkiv region, exhumations of bodies continue in Izium after the discovery of more than 440 graves near this key city recently recaptured from the Russians. Some bodies, with their hands tied, bore signs of abuse. Ukrainian investigators began their investigations on September 16.
Once again, as after the discovery in Boutcha of hundreds of bodies of civilians in the spring after the Russian withdrawal, the Kremlin denied any extortion.
” This is a lie. We will of course defend the truth in this case,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin. “It’s the same scenario as in Boutcha”.
The Czech EU Presidency on Saturday called for the creation of a special international court.
AFP journalists collected testimonies from Ukrainians who said they had been tortured by Russian soldiers during the occupation of the Kharkiv region.
In Izioum hospital, Mykhaïlo Tchindeï, 67, says he was detained for 12 days by enemy soldiers in a damp cell and that his jailers broke his arm with a metal bar.
“They hit my heels, back, legs and kidneys,” adds Mr. Tchindei, the Russian soldiers accusing him of having given the Ukrainian forces the coordinates of a school in which they had settled. . A Ukrainian bombardment had killed many Russian soldiers there.
On the diplomatic front, the list of sanctions against Moscow has grown even longer. Since Monday, Poland and the three Baltic States have restricted the entry of Russian nationals with European visas into their territory.