UN sounds alarm as shelling hits site of Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine

KYIV: Russia and Ukraine accused each other of new shelling near the zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday ahead of a UNSC meeting to address concerns about the facility’s security.
Both Moscow and Kyiv said there were five rocket strikes near a radioactive material storage area at the plant, Europe’s biggest nuclear facility which has been a focus of renewed fighting in recent days.
Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said later there had been fresh Russian shelling near one of six reactors, which had caused “extensive smoke” and “several radiation sensors are damaged”.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed regional administration, said on messaging app telegram that Ukrainian forces had “once again struck” the plant.
The Ukrainian plant is under the control of Russian troops and Ukraine has accused the Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers and storing arms there.
The shelling prompted the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call for an immediate end 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 has then warned even more Russia could cause an incident “more catastrophic than Chernobyl” — a reference to the nuclear disaster in Soviet Ukraine in 1986.
The US State Department later on Thursday said the US supported calls by the UN and others to establish a demilitarized zone around the nuclear plant.
The Security Council is expected to meet at 1900 GMT.
Meanwhile, a day after explosions ripped through a Russian air base in Crimea, a series of mysterious blasts late on Wednesday hit a military airfield used by Russian forces in southeastern Belarus near the border with Ukraine. The blasts stirred speculation that Ukraine could have attacked the airfield at Zyabrovka, just 15 miles north of the border, but the Belarusian ministry of defense blamed what it said was an accident during the testing of a new engine on an unspecified piece of equipment.

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