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Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of risking a nuclear disaster by bombing the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which the United Nations says should be surrounded by a demilitarized zone.

Western countries have called on Moscow to withdraw its troops from the plant, but so far there has been no indication that Russia agrees to withdraw its troops.

“The facility is not to be used as part of a military operation. Instead, an urgent agreement is needed at the technical level on a safe perimeter for demilitarization to ensure the security of the area,” the secretary said. UN General Antonio Guterres in a statement.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also weighed in on the situation, echoing Guterres in saying the power station should not be used in a military operation.

“I support the call for the demilitarization of the area starting with the full withdrawal of Russian forces, and I urge @iaeaorg to surrender,” he said. on Twitterreferring to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Russia must immediately return full control to the rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine,” he said.

Ukraine’s Enerhotam agency said the Zaporizhzhya complex in south-central Ukraine was struck five times on August 11, including near where radioactive materials are stored. The governor of Zaporizhzhya region said the plant was hit again on the evening of August 12.

Meanwhile, Russian-appointed officials have accused Ukraine of bombing the plant twice, disrupting a shift change, state news agency TASS said.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-based regional administration, said Aug. 12 that Ukraine’s strikes could lead to an emergency shutdown of the reactor.

The Ukrainian military denies hitting the factory, saying Russian troops hit it themselves and are using it as a shield for cover while they shell nearby towns.

The overnight shelling of one such town, Marhanets, injured three civilians, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Ukrainian forces control Marhanets and other towns and cities on the opposite bank of the Dnieper, and they have come under heavy shelling from the Russian side in recent days.

A UN Security Council meeting on August 11 discussed the situation and António Guterres called on both sides to cease all fighting near the plant.

The United States supported the call for a demilitarized zone and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the site.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said IAEA officials could visit the site as early as this month.

Speaking at the Security Council meeting, he said the world was being pushed “to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe” on a scale comparable to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Ukraine’s UN ambassador Serhiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of using “elaborate schemes of deception, sabotage and concealment” to stage the bombing, which he said poses “an unprecedented threat to the nuclear security of Ukraine, Europe and the world as a whole”. .”

Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Ukrainian army on August 12 reported widespread shelling and air attacks by Russian forces on dozens of towns and military bases, particularly in the east where Russia attempts to expand territory held on behalf of separatist proxies.

Other parts of the main front line have been relatively static in recent weeks, but fighting has intensified in anticipation of a planned counteroffensive in the south.

In Mykolaiv province, the governor’s press secretary said the area was still under shelling, but had become “a bit calmer”.

Dmytro Pletenchuk, the press secretary of the Mykolaiv military administration, said it was because there was currently a shortage of ammunition in the Russian army.

Ukrainian forces have struck Russian ammunition warehouses and Russian forces have now switched to more obsolete weapon systems, he told Ukrainian television.

“Now the situation has changed. There is a shortage of ammunition among the Russians. And this is very good. We feel the result of the work on their warehouses – it has become a little calmer in Mykolaiv, but the region is bombed,” he said.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, shelling killed two civilians and injured 13 others in Kramatorsk, the last major city under Ukrainian control in the eastern Donetsk region.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the eastern region of Donetsk, said on Facebook that the shelling damaged at least 20 buildings and caused a fire. He called on the remaining residents to evacuate.

With reports from the Ukrainian service of RFE/RL, AP and Reuters

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