Russian missiles hit Ukrainian town near nuclear power plant

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia fired missiles that hit apartment buildings in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, a local official said. said Thursdaykilling three people and injuring at least 12 in an area that houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and which Moscow has illegally annexed.

The two strikes, the first before dawn and another in the morning, damaged more than 40 buildings, local authorities said. The attacks came just hours after Ukraine’s president announced that the country’s army had taken over three more villages in another of the four regions. annexed by Russiathe latest reversal of the battlefield for Moscow.

Zaporizhzhia region governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on Telegram that many people were rescued from multi-storey buildings, including a 3-year-old girl who was taken to hospital for treatment.

Photos provided by Ukraine’s emergency service showed rescuers rushing through the rubble of a wrecked building in search of survivors.

Starukh said of Russia: “The terrorist country has shown its bestial face by converting defensive weapons into offensive weapons and killing people who sleep peacefully.

Zaporizhzhia is one of the regions of Ukraine which Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed as Russian territory in violation of international laws and is home to a nuclear power plant under Russian occupation. The city of the same name remains under Ukrainian control.

The head of the UN’s atomic energy watchdog is expected to travel to Kyiv this week to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after Putin signed a decree on Wednesday declaring Russia taking control of the six-reactor facility.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called the decision a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void”. State nuclear operator Energoatom said it would continue to operate the plant.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plans to discuss efforts to establish a secure protection zone around the facility, which was damaged during Russia’s war in Ukraine and seen staff, including its director, kidnapped by Russian troops.

Grossi plans to travel to Moscow for talks with Russian officials after his stopover in Ukraine.

The US government sent its international development chief to Kyiv on Thursday, the highest US official to visit Ukraine since Russia illegally annexed the four regions.

The Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, held meetings with government officials and residents. She said the United States would provide an additional $55 million to repair heating pipes and other equipment.

USAID said the United States had provided $9.89 billion in aid to Ukraine since February. A spending bill signed by US President Joe Biden last week promises an additional $12.3 billion for both military and public service needs. Power said Washington plans to release the first $4.5 billion of that funding in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, leaders from more than 40 European countries met in Prague Thursday to launch a “political community” aimed at building security and prosperity across the continent.

“What you will see here is that Europe stands together against the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told reporters at Prague Castle, a day after the Kremlin opened the door to new land seizures in Ukraine.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will continue to consult with residents who would be willing to embrace Russia.”

The precise borders of the areas claimed by Moscow remain unclear, but Putin has pledged to defend Russian territory – including the annexed Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia – with all means available to his army, including including nuclear weapons.

Deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said 10 people were killed in the latest Russian attacks in Dnipro, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. It was unclear whether this number included those killed in the morning strikes in Zaporizhzhia.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian army had taken over three more villages in the Kherson region. Novovoskrysenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka are all located northeast of Kherson.

Ukrainian forces are retake villages in Kherson in humiliating battlefield defeats for Russian forces that severely tarnished the image of a powerful Russian military and added to the tensions surrounding an ill-planned mobilization. They have also fueled fighting between Kremlin insiders and left Putin increasingly stuck.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said the Ukrainian flag had been raised over seven villages in the Kherson region previously occupied by the Russians. The closest of the liberated villages to the city of Kherson is Davydiv Brid, about 100 kilometers (60 miles).

Ukraine was also seeking to launch a counteroffensive in the Donetsk region, which has been partly controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014 but remains contested despite Putin’s proclaimed annexation.

When Russian troops retreated from the town of Lyman in Donetsk over the weekend, they withdrew so quickly that they left the bodies of their comrades behind. Some were still lying by the side of the road leading into town on Wednesday.

Lyman suffered heavy damage both during the occupation and when Ukrainian soldiers fought to retake it. Mykola, a 71-year-old man who gave only his first name, was among about 100 residents who lined up for help on Wednesday.

“We want the war to end, for the pharmacy, stores and hospitals to start operating again as before,” he said. “Now we have nothing yet. Everything is destroyed and looted, a complete disaster.

In his late night address, a defiant Zelensky broke into Russian to tell Moscow leaders that they have already lost the war they launched on February 24.

“You lost because even now, on this 224th day of full-scale warfare, you must explain to your society why all this is necessary.”

He said Ukrainians know why they are fighting.

“And more and more Russian citizens are realizing that they have to die just because a person doesn’t want to end the war,” Zelenskyy said.

___

Hanna Arhirova contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *