Ukraine called for new sanctions against Russia and warned of the consequences of the disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, where fresh shelling nearby renewed the blame game between the two sides.

The World Nuclear Organization has warned of a catastrophe if the fighting does not stop.

Ukrainian and Russian officials have traded accusations over who is responsible for the attacks near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned the Russian military that if they attack the facility in the city of Energodar, which is now under Russian control, or use it as a firing base, they will become a “special target.”

In a speech late on Monday, Zelensky called for a tougher world response to the Kremlin.

“If Russia’s actions lead to a catastrophe, the consequences may hit those who remain silent,” he said, calling for new sanctions against Russia’s nuclear sector.

“If the world does not show the strength and determination to protect one nuclear plant now, it will mean that the world has lost.”

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official at Energodar, said on Monday that about 25 heavy artillery strikes from US-made M777 howitzers were fired near the nuclear power plant and residential areas in two hours.

The Russian news agency “Interfax” with reference to the press service of the administration of Energodar appointed by Russia reported that the Ukrainian forces opened fire with explosions near the power plant.

But according to the head of the administration of the Nikopol district, which is across the river from Energodar and remains under Ukrainian control, it was Russian forces who shelled the city to try to create the impression that Ukraine was attacking it.

“The Russians think they can force the world to comply with their terms by firing at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP),” Ukrainian presidential administration chief Andrei Yermak wrote on Twitter.

Reuters could not immediately verify reports from the scene of the battle.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is seeking access to the nuclear power plant, has warned of a possible disaster. Nuclear experts fear the fighting could damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the creation of a demilitarized zone around Zaporozhye.

The United Nations says it has the logistical and security capabilities to support an IAEA visit if both Russia and Ukraine agree.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a telephone conversation with Guterres to discuss the conditions for the safe operation of the nuclear power plant, the ministry said on Monday.

“In close cooperation with the agency and its management, we will do everything necessary so that the IAEA specialists are at the station and give a true assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side,” said the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.

Ukraine, where parliament on Monday extended martial law for another three months, has said for weeks it is planning a counteroffensive to retake Zaporozhye and neighboring Kherson region, the largest swath of territory Russia seized after the February 24 invasion and still holds.


The conflict, which has forced millions to flee and killed thousands, has severely strained relations between Moscow and the West.

Russia said late Monday that a British reconnaissance plane violated its air border on a peninsula east of Finland between the Barents Sea and the White Sea, and that a fighter jet pushed the British plane out of Russian airspace.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday boasted about Russia’s advanced weapons capabilities, but his military has been pushed out of Ukraine’s two largest cities and is slowly advancing in the country’s east at a heavy cost.

Russia calls the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities.

Ukraine and Western supporters accuse Moscow of waging an imperial-style war of aggression.

On Monday evening, Ukrainian forces reported that Russian troops were firing in order to advance on various positions on the front line in the east and south.

Despite ​​the biggest attack on a European power since 1945, progress was made on a grain agreement to ease the world food crisis caused by the conflict, the most significant diplomatic breakthrough since the war began.

A joint coordination center set up by the United Nations, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey said it had approved the shipment of “Brave Commander,” the first shipment of humanitarian food aid to Africa from Ukraine since the invasion. He is due to leave on Tuesday.

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