Kyiv: Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of new bombardments near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant on Thursday ahead of a UNSC meeting to address concerns about the safety of the facility.
Moscow and Kyiv said there were five rocket hits near a radioactive material storage area at the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility which has been the subject of renewed fighting in recent days.
Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear agency later said there had been renewed Russian bombardments near one of the six reactors, which caused “heavy smoke” and “several radiation sensors are damaged”.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-based regional administration, said on the messaging app Telegram that Ukrainian forces had “once again struck” the factory.
The Ukrainian factory is under the control of Russian troops and Ukraine has accused Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers there and stockpiling weapons there.
The bombardment prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call for an immediate halt to all military activity around the plant, warning that any damage could lead to “catastrophic consequences” in the region and beyond.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia could cause an incident “even more catastrophic than Chernobyl” – a reference to the Soviet Ukraine nuclear disaster in 1986.
Later Thursday, the US State Department said the United States supports calls by the UN and others to establish a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant.
The Security Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. GMT.
Meanwhile, a day after blasts ripped through a Russian airbase in Crimea, a series of mysterious explosions hit a military airfield used by Russian forces in southeast Belarus near the border on Wednesday evening. with Ukraine. The explosions sparked speculation that Ukraine may have attacked Zyabrovka airfield, just 15 miles north of the border, but the Belarusian Defense Ministry blamed what it said was an accident during the testing of a new engine on unspecified equipment.

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