August 14, 2022

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Russia assaults Ukraine nuclear plant as invasion advances

By JIM HEINTZ, YURAS KARMANAU and MSTYSLAV CHERNOV

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces shelled Europe’s largest nuclear plant early Friday, sparking a fireplace as they pressed their assault on an important energy-producing Ukrainian metropolis and gained floor of their bid to chop off the nation from the ocean.

The world’s main nuclear authorities noticed no rapid trigger for alarm about harm to the ability, however the assault triggered a telephone name between U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the U.S. Division of Power activated its nuclear incident response group as a precaution.

The assault on the japanese metropolis of Enerhodar and its Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant unfolded because the invasion entered its second week and one other spherical of talks between the 2 sides yielded a tentative settlement to arrange protected corridors to evacuate residents and ship humanitarian assist.

Nuclear plant spokesman Andriy Tuz advised Ukrainian tv that shells have been falling straight on the ability and had set hearth to considered one of its six reactors. That reactor is below renovation and never working, however there may be nuclear gasoline inside, he mentioned.

Firefighters can not get close to the flames as a result of they’re being shot at, he mentioned, and Ukrainian International Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted a plea to the Russians to cease the assault and permit hearth groups inside.

“We demand that they cease the heavy weapons hearth,” Tuz mentioned in a video assertion. “There’s a actual menace of nuclear hazard within the largest atomic power station in Europe.”

The assault renewed fears that the invasion may lead to harm to considered one of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors and set off one other emergency just like the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe, which occurred about 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of the capital.

U.S. Power Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that the Zaporizhzhia plant’s reactors have been protected by sturdy containment constructions and have been being safely shut down.

In an emotional speech in the midst of the evening, Zelenskyy mentioned he feared an explosion that will be “the top for everybody. The tip for Europe. The evacuation of Europe.”

“Solely pressing motion by Europe can cease the Russian troops,” he mentioned. “Don’t enable the demise of Europe from a disaster at a nuclear energy station.”

However most specialists noticed nothing to point an impending catastrophe.

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The Worldwide Atomic Power Company mentioned the hearth had not affected important tools and that Ukraine’s nuclear regulator reported no change radiation ranges. The American Nuclear Society concurred, saying that the most recent radiation ranges remained inside pure background ranges.

“The actual menace to Ukrainian lives continues to be the violent invasion and bombing of their nation,” the group mentioned in a press release.

The plant’s reactor is a unique kind than the one used at Chernobyl, and there needs to be little threat if the containment vessel will not be broken and outdoors energy might be restored, mentioned Jon B. Wolfsthal, a former senior director for arms management and nonproliferation on the Nationwide Safety Council and former particular adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

“Everybody must take a step again and never soar to conclusions,” Wolfsthal, now a senior adviser at International Zero, mentioned on Twitter.

The mayor of Enerhodar mentioned earlier that Ukrainian forces have been battling Russian troops on the town’s outskirts. Video confirmed flames and black smoke rising above the town of greater than 50,000, with folks streaming previous wrecked vehicles, only a day after the U.N. atomic watchdog company expressed grave concern that the preventing may trigger unintended harm to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

The Ukrainian state atomic power firm reported {that a} Russian navy column was heading towards the nuclear plant. Loud pictures and rocket hearth have been heard late Thursday.

“Many younger males in athletic garments and armed with Kalashnikovs have come into the town. They’re breaking down doorways and attempting to get into the flats of native residents,” the assertion from Energoatom mentioned.

Later, a stay streamed safety digicam linked from the homepage of the Zaporizhzhia plant confirmed what gave the impression to be armored automobiles rolling into the ability’s parking zone and shining spotlights on the constructing the place the digicam was mounted.

There have been then what gave the impression to be vivid muzzle flashes from automobiles, adopted by almost simultaneous explosions within the surrounding buildings. Smoke then rose into the body and drifted away.

Whereas an enormous Russian armored column threatening Kyiv appeared slowed down exterior the capital, Vladimir Putin’s forces have introduced their superior firepower to bear over the previous few days, launching a whole lot of missiles and artillery assaults on cities and different websites across the nation and making important features within the south.

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal referred to as on the West to shut the skies over the nation’s nuclear vegetation as preventing intensified. “It’s a query of the safety of the entire world!” he mentioned in a press release.

The U.S. and NATO allies have dominated out making a no-fly zone for the reason that transfer would pit Russian and Western navy forces towards one another.

The Russians introduced the seize of the southern metropolis of Kherson, an important Black Sea port of 280,000, and native Ukrainian officers confirmed the takeover of the federal government headquarters there, making it the primary main metropolis to fall for the reason that invasion started every week in the past.

Heavy preventing continued on the outskirts of one other strategic port, Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. The battles have knocked out the town’s electrical energy, warmth and water programs, in addition to most telephone service, officers mentioned. Meals deliveries to the town have been additionally lower.

Related Press video from the port metropolis reveals the assault lighting up the darkening sky above largely abandoned streets and medical groups treating civilians, together with one inside a clinic who gave the impression to be a baby. Medical doctors have been unable to avoid wasting the individual.

Severing Ukraine’s entry to the Black and Azov seas would deal a crippling blow to its financial system and permit Russia to construct a land hall to Crimea, seized by Moscow in 2014.

General, the outnumbered, outgunned Ukrainians have put up stiff resistance, staving off the swift victory that Russia appeared to have anticipated. However a senior U.S. protection official, talking on situation of anonymity, mentioned Russia’s seizure of Crimea gave it a logistical benefit in that a part of the nation, with shorter provide strains that smoothed the offensive there.

Ukrainian leaders referred to as on the folks to defend their homeland by slicing down timber, erecting barricades within the cities and attacking enemy columns from the rear. In current days, authorities have issued weapons to civilians and taught them how one can make Molotov cocktails.

“Complete resistance. … That is our Ukrainian trump card, and that is what we are able to do greatest on this planet,” Oleksiy Arestovich, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, mentioned in a video message, recalling guerrilla actions in Nazi-occupied Ukraine throughout World Warfare II.

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The second spherical of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations was held in neighboring Belarus. However the two sides appeared far aside going into the assembly, and Putin warned Ukraine that it should shortly settle for the Kremlin’s demand for its “demilitarization” and declare itself impartial, renouncing its bid to hitch NATO.

Putin advised French President Emmanuel Macron he was decided to press on together with his assault “till the top,” based on Macron’s workplace.

The 2 sides mentioned that they tentatively agreed to permit cease-fires in areas designated protected corridors, and that they’d search to work out the mandatory particulars shortly. A Zelenskyy adviser additionally mentioned a 3rd spherical of talks might be held early subsequent week.

Regardless of a profusion of proof of civilian casualties and destruction of property by the Russian navy, Putin decried what he referred to as an “anti-Russian disinformation marketing campaign” and insisted that Moscow makes use of “solely precision weapons to solely destroy navy infrastructure.”

Putin claimed that the Russian navy had already provided protected corridors for civilians to flee, however he asserted with out proof that Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” have been stopping folks from leaving and have been utilizing them as human shields.

He additionally hailed Russian troopers as heroes in a video name with members of Russia’s Safety Council, and ordered further funds to households of males killed or wounded.

A prime Russian officer, Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, commander of an airborne division, was killed within the preventing earlier this week, an officers group in Russia reported.

The Pentagon arrange a direct communication hyperlink to Russia’s Ministry of Protection earlier this week to keep away from the potential of a miscalculation sparking battle between Moscow and Washington, based on a U.S. protection official who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the hyperlink had not been introduced.

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Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine; Chernov from Mariupol, Ukraine. Sergei Grits in Odesa, Ukraine; Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kyiv; Jamey Keaten in Geneva; Lynn Berry, Robert Burns and Eric Tucker in Washington; Edith M. Lederer and Jennifer Peltz on the United Nations; and different AP journalists from around the globe contributed to this report.

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Observe the AP’s protection of the Ukraine disaster at