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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed grave concern over the bombing of Ukraine’s massive Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, saying it increases the risk of a “nuclear disaster”.

Comments by Director-General Rafael Grossi on August 6 came as Kyiv and Moscow blame exchanged for the bombing of the site of Zaporizhzhya, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

“I am extremely concerned by yesterday’s bombing of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underscores the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” Grossi said in a statement.

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Grossi urged all parties to the conflict to exercise “maximum restraint” near the nuclear site.

The IAEA chief added that it was “of the utmost importance” that the agency had access to the plant “to provide technical support for nuclear safety and security”.

The plant, about 200 kilometers northwest of the Russian port of Mariupol, has been under Russian surveillance since Moscow troops seized it at the start of the war, but Ukrainian personnel continue to operate the facilities.

On August 5, Ukrainian officials said a high-voltage power line in Zaporizhzhya had been hit by Russian shelling, but added that the plant was still operating and no radioactive discharge had been detected.

Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom accused Russian forces of being responsible for the damage, while the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of bombing the site.

Grossi said military action near the plant “is totally unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs.”

“Any military firepower directed to or from the facility would be tantamount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”

In his overnight video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia must take responsibility for an “act of terror” after Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for strikes in Zaporizhzhya.

“Today the occupiers have created another extremely risky situation for all of Europe: they have struck the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant twice. Any bombing of this site is a shameless crime, an act of terror,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

“Russia must take responsibility for the very fact of creating a threat to a nuclear power plant,” he said.

Valentyn Reznichenko, the regional governor of Dnipropetrovsk, said Russian forces the day before bombed a town across the Dnieper of the plant.

Military experts quoted in US media say they believe Russia is intentionally bombing the area, knowing that Ukrainian forces cannot risk retaliating as it could damage reactors or disrupt nuclear waste sites.

Separately, British military intelligence said Russia’s war in Ukraine was about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting moving along the Dnieper to a nearly 350-kilometre front that s extends southwest from near Zaporizhzhya to Kherson.

In the east, Russian forces launched an offensive on Bakhmut and several other towns in Donetsk, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on August 6.

“In the direction of Donetsk, the enemy is carrying out an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts in the direction of Bakhmut and Avdiyivka. It uses ground attack and army aviation,” the general staff said. general on Facebook.

The General Staff said in its morning report that the Russian attacks were successfully repelled at Yakovlivka, Vershyn, Kodem and Zaitseve.

The reports could not be independently verified.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily information bulletin that Russian forces are now almost certainly massing in the south in anticipation of the Ukrainian counter-offensive or in preparation for a possible assault.

British intelligence reported that Russia had moved long columns of military trucks, tanks, towed artillery and other weapons from Donbass east to southwest.

Russia also moved equipment and personnel to annexed Crimea from Russian-occupied Melitopol, Berdyansk, Mariupol, and from mainland Russia via the Kerch Bridge.

The additional equipment and personnel, which include tactical battalion groups of between 800 and 1,000 men, will “almost certainly be used to support Russian troops in the Kherson region”, British intelligence has suggested.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces countered enemy movements by focusing more often on bridges, ammunition depots and rail connections in the southern regions, including the strategically important rail spur that connects Kherson to Crimea, according to the bulletin.

Ukrainian forces are almost certainly using “a combination of blocking, damaging, degrading, denial, destruction and disruption effects to attempt to affect Russia’s ability to resupply logistically,” it said. he declares.

The city of Mykolayiv, on Ukraine’s southern frontline, imposed an unusually long curfew from the end of August 5 to the beginning of August 8, Vitaliy Kim, the head of the regional military administration, announced , on Telegram. Kim said the measure was intended to allow authorities to identify and detain people collaborating with Russia.

Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) said it had arrested two men suspected of being Russian spies tasked with identifying targets for Russian missile strikes that severely damaged shipbuilding infrastructure in the port city.

The men “collected and transmitted intelligence to the enemy on important infrastructure, fuel depots, the deployment and movement of armed forces personnel and equipment[ukrainiennes]”, said the SBU.[Ukrainian)armedforces”theSBUsaid[Ukrainian)armedforces”theSBUsaid

The agency said without specifying when multiple shipbuilding operations and fuel depots were damaged.

With reports from Reuters, dpa, AFP and AP

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