Russia-Ukraine war: Fresh shelling near nuclear reactor as UN urges demilitarised zone

Russia has carried out overnight shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, according to Ukraine.

The shelling in Marhanets, a town opposite the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, saw three civilians — including a boy — wounded, Valentyn Reznichenko, the Dnipropetrovsk region’s governor, said.

The UN has urged a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over more shelling. Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said the facility in the country’s southeast had been shelled five times by Russian forces on Thursday, resulting in staff being unable to change shifts.

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s military said its artillery hit a Russian ammunition depot near a key bridge in the south and added it now had the ability to strike nearly all of Moscow’s supply lines in the occupied region.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has told government officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks are “frankly irresponsible”.

In the wake of major blasts that wrecked a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers cited unidentified officials as saying Ukrainian forces were responsible. The government in Kyiv, on the other hand, declined to say whether it had been behind the explosions.

The UK Ministry of Defence has said the explosions at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea earlier in the week were “almost certainly” from the detonation of up to four uncovered munition storage areas, though what set them off remained unclear.

At least five Su-24 Fencer fighter-bombers and three Su-30 Flanker H multi-role jets were almost certainly destroyed or seriously damaged in the blasts, according to British intelligence.

The devastation at the Russian air base in Crimea suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. The base is well beyond the range of advanced rockets that western countries acknowledge sending to Ukraine so far, with some western military experts saying the scale of the damage and the apparent precision of the strike suggested a powerful new capability with potentially important implications.

Ukraine’s security agencies issued a joint statement calling for the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send representatives to locations where Russia is holding Ukrainian prisoners of war.

The request on Friday follows earlier allegations by Kyiv that Moscow’s forces have tortured and executed prisoners, including by staging an explosion in a Ukrainian POW camp in Olenivka. — Guardian

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