Nuclear drill in Ukraine 'to prepare for all scenarios'

Russian strikes kill 4, injure 20 in Kharkiv region

By: AFP
Published: 02:29 PM, 18 Aug, 2022
Nuclear drill in Ukraine 'to prepare for all scenarios'
Caption: Representational image.
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Ukraine must "prepare for all scenarios" linked to a Russian-occupied nuclear plant, the interior minister has said during a drill for emergency workers in the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia.

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, the biggest atomic power station in Europe, which has been under Russian control since March.

The tensions around the facility have sparked fears of another nuclear disaster in Europe like the one in Chernobyl in then Soviet Ukraine in 1986.

"Nobody could have predicted that Russian troops would be firing on nuclear reactors with tanks. It is incredible," Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the plant.

After watching a nuclear accident drill on Wednesday, he said Ukraine should be prepared since "as long as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is controlled by Russia, there are major risks".

Dozens of Ukrainian emergency workers wearing gas masks and hazmat suits took part in the drill in which they practised evacuating an injured person and washing down contaminated vehicles.

The head of Ukraine's state nuclear agency Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said around 500 Russian soldiers and 50 armoured vehicles were at the plant.

Russia has said it does not have any heavy weapons or troops there except for guard units.

Ukraine has accused Russia of firing on the plant in order to accuse Ukraine of doing it, while Russia has accused Kyiv of shelling the facility.

It is impossible to independently verify the claims.

Russian strikes kill 4, injure 20 in Kharkiv region

Four people were killed and more than a dozen others injured Thursday by early-morning Russian bombardments on the northeast Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, the governor said.

The attacks come hours ahead of a meeting between the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN chief Antonio Guterres on the other side of the country and after Russian attacks on Kharkiv a day early left at least seven dead.

Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv has been subjected to persistent Russian shelling since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in late February.

The head of the Kharkiv region Oleg Synegubov said Moscow's forces had launched eight missiles from Russian territory at around 0430 local time (0130 GMT) striking western and northern districts of the city.

In the southern Slobidskyi district, "one of the missiles hit a four-story dormitory. The building is partially destroyed. Preliminarily, two people died, 18 got injured, including 2 children. The detailed information is being clarified," Synegubov said in a statement on social media.

AFP journalists on the scene saw the smouldering remains of several burnt out buildings and twisted wreckage of destroyed vehicles nearby.

Separately, he said, Russian missile attacks on the town of Krasnograd around 100 kilometres (62 miles) south west of Kharkiv had destroyed several residential buildings in strikes that left two civilians dead and two injured, including a 12-year-old.

Russian forces initially tried to capture Kharkiv early in their assault on Ukraine but were pushed back and have been shelling mostly northern residential districts of the city since.

Moscow claims Ukraine is storing military equipment near civilian infrastructure, a claim Ukraine denies.

The Turkish leader and Guterres brokered a grain export deal between Moscow and Kyiv, allowing grain to exported from Ukraine's blockaded Black Sea ports.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.