The Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was again the target of artillery fire and subsequent heavy explosions over the weekend. While Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of being responsible, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which plans to inspect the power plant for damage on Monday, is tightening its warnings of further attacks. The shelling was “a Russian roulette, disturbing and unacceptable”, whoever is behind it “plays with fire”, said IAEA boss Rafael Grossi.
“We were fortunate that there was no potentially serious nuclear incident. We might not be so lucky next time,” said Grossi, whose inspectors could even see the detonations from their windows. According to the Russian news agency TASS, the Russian operator Rosenergoatom announced that the inspectors would not be granted free access. “If they want to inspect a facility that has nothing to do with nuclear safety, they will be denied access.” The shelling of the nuclear power plant, which provided a fifth of Ukraine’s energy needs before the war, follows setbacks for Russian forces in the Cherson region in southern Ukraine. Since then, Russia has been bombing energy infrastructure in a targeted manner. Almost 400 Russian attacks on SundayAccording to Ukrainian information, the Russian armed forces are increasingly shelling positions in eastern Ukraine with artillery. Almost 400 attacks were counted on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his video address. Russia had withdrawn its forces from the southern city of Kherson earlier this month and moved some of them to reinforce positions in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Donbas. Kherson is still without electricity, running water and heating. “The fiercest fighting is still taking place in the Donetsk region,” Zelenskyy said. There were fewer attacks due to the deterioration in the weather. The Russian shelling remains “unfortunately extremely high”. Kyiv announced on Saturday that around 60 Russian soldiers had been killed in a long-range artillery attack in the south. The Russian Defense Ministry said up to 50 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed along the southern Donetsk front line and 50 others elsewhere.