Ukraine conflict day 167: Zelenskyy warns of nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl, Russia intensifies eastern assault
Updated 22:31, 09-Aug-2022
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform guards the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia region. /Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform guards the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia region. /Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters


Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged blame for a weekend strike on Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, which triggered international concern about a potential atomic disaster. The head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company called for the plant, where Russian forces are based, to be made a military-free zone, as Moscow prepared to install more anti-aircraft defenses around the site. 

• The Kremlin warned that Ukrainian shelling at the site could have "catastrophic consequences," while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also reminded the world not to forget about Ukraine's past nuclear disasters: "The Chernobyl disaster was an explosion of one reactor. Zaporizhzhia NPP has six."

Russia continues to unleash ground forces, air strikes and artillery as it presses ahead with a grinding offensive designed to complete its capture of eastern Ukraine. However, Kyiv says its troops are putting up fierce resistance and holding the line. READ MORE BELOW

Around Kharkiv in the northeast, Ukrainian troops have recaptured the town of Dovhenke and were advancing towards Izium, according to a presidential adviser. In the southeast, Ukrainian soldiers targeted the key bridge over the Dnipro river in Kherson region in a bid to disrupt Russian supply lines.

The U.S. will provide Ukraine with $1 billion in military hardware and supplies, including munitions for long-range weapons, alongside an extra $4.5 billion to its government for healthcare, pensions and social payments. The two packages bring Washington's total financial support for Kyiv since the conflict erupted in February to $8.5 billion.

Ukraine has arrested two people supposedly working for Russian intelligence services who allegedly planned to kill Ukraine's defense minister and the head of its military intelligence agency, Ukraine's domestic security service, the SBU, announced on Monday.

Russia is estimated to have suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since the conflict's start, according to the Pentagon.

The Kremlin has dismissed Zelenskyy's call for a travel ban on all Russians as irrational, saying that Europe would ultimately have to decide if it wanted to pay the bills for the leader's "whims." The president told the Washington Post that he wanted the West to impose a blanket travel ban on all Russians: "Whichever kind of Russian ... make them go to Russia," he said.

Russian jetliners, including those belonging to state-controlled Aeroflot AFLT.MM, are being stripped to secure spare parts they can no longer buy abroad because of Western sanctions, industry experts have alleged. 

A Russian tank crewman has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for committing war crimes by firing on a multi-storied apartment block in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigiv.

Moscow-backed authorities in the region of Zaporizhzhia say they are pressing ahead with plans to stage a referendum on joining Russia. The southern Ukrainian Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have been largely under Russia's control since the first weeks of its military campaign, and are both now being bureaucratically integrated into Russia's economy.

An official examines the ruins of a furniture factory following a missile strike in Kharkiv. /Sergey Bobok/AFP

An official examines the ruins of a furniture factory following a missile strike in Kharkiv. /Sergey Bobok/AFP


Moscow steps up assault in east Ukraine

Heavy fighting continues at frontline towns near the eastern city of Donetsk, where Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were launching waves of attacks as they tried to seize control of the industrialized Donbas region.

"The situation in the region is tense - shelling is constant throughout the front line ... The enemy is also using air strikes a great deal," Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, one of two that makes up Donbas, told Ukrainian television.

"The enemy is having no success. Donetsk region is holding."

The Ukrainian military claims to have repelled ground assaults in the direction of the Donetsk cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, wiping out Russian reconnaissance units/

However, Russia has given a different assessment. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed his forces had captured a factory on the edge of the eastern town of Soledar, while other Russian-backed forces said they were in the process of "clearing out" the heavily fortified village of Pisky.

Russian media also reported that a group of mercenaries from the Wagner Group were containing to press its gains in near Bakhmut.

Some of the places Russia is targeting, such as Pisky, are heavily defended settlements with tunnels and trenches where Ukrainian forces have long been preparing for a surge from enemy forces.

British military intelligence, which is helping Ukraine, said that Russia's push towards the city of Bakhmut had been its most successful operation in the Donbas in the last 30 days.

However, it added it had still only managed to advance around 10 km (6 miles), adding that Russian forces in other areas had not gained more than 3 km over the same period.

Russia ultimate aim is to seize full control of the Donbas region on behalf of pro-Kremlin separatist forces, while Russian-installed officials in parts of southern Ukraine say they will press ahead with referendums to join their warring neighbor. 

Kyiv, which has made modest progress in recent weeks in taking back some lost ground, hopes that with the aid of Western intelligence and arms it can launch a wider counter-offensive in southern Ukraine to dislodge Moscow's forces.

Source(s): AFP ,Reuters

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