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Russia-Ukraine news live: Fire out at nuclear plant amid Russian attacks; refugee crisis grows as Putin’s military presses forward

KIEV, Ukraine – Russian troops seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on Friday after a midnight attack that set it on fire and sparked global fears of catastrophe in the most creepy turn in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and no radioactivity was released, UN and Ukrainian officials said, as Russian forces continued their offensive on a number of fronts for a week and the number of refugees fleeing the country exceeded 1.2 million.

As the huge Russian armored column threatening Kyiv seemed immobilized outside the capital, President Vladimir Putin’s forces have stepped up their air power, firing hundreds of rockets and launching artillery shells at other cities and towns. in the south in an apparent attempt to cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea.

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In the attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said that a Russian “missile” hit a training center and not one of its six reactors.

The attack evoked memories of the worst nuclear disaster in the world, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. In an emotional night’s speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he feared an explosion that would be “the end for all. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe.”

However, nuclear officials from Sweden to China said no radioactive leaks had been reported, as did Grossi.

Authorities said Russian troops had taken control of the entire site, but that factory personnel continued to manage it. Only one reactor was operating, Grossi said after the attack.

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Two people were injured in the blaze, Grossi said. Ukraine’s state nuclear power plant operator Enerhoatom said three Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and two wounded.

The crisis in Zaporizhzhia unfolded after Grossi expressed earlier concern earlier in the week that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors at four plants across the country.

In the aftermath of the attack, Zelensky again called on the West to impose a no-fly zone over his country. But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out the possibility, citing the danger of a much wider war in Europe.

He said the only way to enforce a no-fly zone would be to send NATO planes to enforce it by shooting down Russian planes.

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“We understand the despair, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could lead to a full-scale war in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.

The UN Security Council has called for an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss a nuclear plant attack.

The fire came as the Russians continued their offensive in the south of the country. Cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov in the south would deal a severe blow to the Ukrainian economy and could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.

A round of talks between Russia and Ukraine resulted in a pilot agreement on Thursday to set up safe corridors for evacuating civilians and delivering food and medicine. But the necessary details had to be explored.

The fire at the plant was the second since the start of the invasion that raised concerns about a possible nuclear accident, following a battle at the heavily contaminated site of the most decommissioned Chernobyl plant.

Faced with global outrage, Russia has sought to divert responsibility. Without providing any evidence, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that a Ukrainian “sabotage group” had set fire to the building in Zaporozhye.

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In the latest demonstration of international opposition to the invasion, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voted 32-2 to set up a panel of human rights experts in Ukraine. Only Russia and Eritrea opposed.

Frequent bombardment was heard in the center of the Kiev capital on Friday, albeit further away than in recent days, with loud vibrations erupting from the rooftops every 10 minutes.

Adviser to the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich said that airstrikes and artillery battles continued northwest of Kiev and the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka were hit hard.

He said Ukrainian forces were still holding the northern city of Chernihiv and had thwarted Russian attempts to seize the important southern city of Mykolaiv. The Ukrainian artillery defended Odessa from repeated attempts by Russian ships to fire on the main Black Sea port, Arestovich said.

The Ukrainian Navy destroyed its flagship at the shipyard where repairs were being made to prevent the seizure of the frigate by the Russians, said the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.

“It is difficult to imagine a more difficult decision for a courageous soldier and crew,” said Oleksii Reznikov.

Another strategic port, Mariupol in the Sea of ​​Azov, was “partly under siege” and Ukrainian forces repulsed attempts to encircle the city, Arestovich said.

“The humanitarian situation is tense,” he said, adding that Ukrainian authorities were in talks with Russian officials and international organizations to set up a humanitarian corridor to evacuate residents and provide food.

The fighting has hit the city’s electricity, heating and water systems, as well as most telephone services, officials said.

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Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Chernov reported from Mariupol, Ukraine. Sergei Grits in Odessa, Ukraine. Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kyiv. and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Russia-Ukraine news live: Fire out at nuclear plant amid Russian attacks; refugee crisis grows as Putin’s military presses forward Source link Russia-Ukraine news live: Fire out at nuclear plant amid Russian attacks; refugee crisis grows as Putin’s military presses forward

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