KYIV: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday (Aug 6) accused Russia of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “for terror” after the operator of the facility reported major damage at the site.
Energoatom, operator of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south of the country, said on Saturday that parts of the facility had been “seriously damaged” by military strikes and one of its reactors was forced to shut down.
Friday’s strikes had damaged a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an auxiliary building, Energoatom said on the Telegram messaging service.
As hostilities raged on in the east and south of Ukraine, pro-Moscow authorities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region reported the assassination of a senior official.
And the head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office announced she had resigned from the organisation over the group’s publication of a controversial report that accused the country’s military of endangering civilians.
Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest atomic power complex.
Zelenskyy, in his nightly address on Saturday, once again accused Moscow of terrorism, saying, “Russian terrorists became the first in the world to use the power plant… for terror.”
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned the attack “as a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms”.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog also expressed alarm. The strikes underline “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster”, said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
An official with the Russian occupying authorities in Kherson died in hospital after being shot on Saturday, Russian state media reported.
Vitalii Hura, “the deputy head of the Novaya Kakhovka administration in charge of the housing and utility sector, died from his wounds”, Yekaterina Gubareva, the deputy head of Russia’s civil-military administration in Kherson, wrote on Telegram, according to TASS.
The report said Hura had been attacked in his home and shot several times.
Another Moscow-appointed official was killed in the same region in June, reportedly by a bomb planted in his car.
There has been a spate of reported assassination attempts and attacks against pro-Kremlin officials in Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia.
Although Russia has seized a large swath of the Kherson region and part of nearby Zaporizhzhia in recent months, Ukraine’s forces have reclaimed some territory.