Ukraine Reports Russian Strikes Near Power Plant

Ukraine reported fresh Russian aerial attacks Monday near the site of a major nuclear power plant, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of potential Russian actions as Ukraine prepares to mark the anniversary of its independence.

Regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian rocket strikes hit areas to the west of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  The rockets struck houses, a kindergarten and stores, Reznichenko said.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for repeated shelling near the power plant.  Ukraine has asked the United Nations and other international organizations to force Russia to leave the site, which it has occupied since March, even as Ukrainian technicians operate the facility.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation in a call Sunday.

A White House statement said the leaders talked about “the need to avoid military operations near the plant and the importance of an IAEA visit as soon as feasible to ascertain the state of safety systems.”

Talks have been under way for more than a week to arrange for a visit to the plant by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In a phone call Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia would allow international inspectors to enter the plant.

Independence day

Wednesday’s 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule coincides with six months since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said during his nightly address Sunday that he had spoken with Macron about “all the threats” posed by Russia, and that similar messages had been sent to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“All of Ukraine’s partners have been informed about what the terrorist state can prepare for this week,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian leader mentioned one action Russia may take is holding a trial for a group of Ukrainian soldiers captured during the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“If this despicable show trial were to go ahead … this would be the line beyond which negotiations are no longer possible,” Zelenskyy said. “There will be no more conversations. Our state has said everything.”

The war between the neighboring countries, raging since Russia’s February 24 invasion, has killed thousands of fighters on both sides and Ukrainian civilians, while forcing millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes for safety in the western part of the country, far from the front battle lines in eastern Ukraine, or go to neighboring countries.

Artillery shells hit Ukraine’s southern city of Nikopol early Sunday, not far from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.