Russian forces have placed Grad multiple-launch-rocket systems on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s territory, according to Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator.
The rocket launchers are next to spent nuclear fuel storage units near the plant’s sixth reactor, it said, and are likely to be used to strike cities on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, using the reactor and fuel storage as a “shelter” from return fire, according to Energoatom.
Russia’s move violated conditions for nuclear and radiation safety, the company said in its statement, which was backed by several Ukrainian ministers.
The risk of a nuclear meltdown is greatly reduced as none of the reactors is operating, but experts say a release of radiation is still possible at the Russian-occupied site, it’s been reported.
Ukraine’s atomic power agency has accused Russian forces of abducting two senior staff at the plant and detaining a third.
Meanwhile, Russian forces stepped up their military offensive in Ukraine’s east and shelled the entire frontier with the relentless attacks continuing for most of the week.
The fiercest fighting has raged near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the region’s governor Pavlo Kyurylenko said.
Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Friday, 9 December.
Vladimir Putin appears ‘drunk’ as he charges Ukraine for attacks
Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of initiating attacks on civilian infrastructure in the ongoing invasion by Moscow.
“There’s a lot of noise right now about our strikes against the energy infrastructure of the neighbouring country,” Mr Putin said at a state awards ceremony where he appeared with a glass of a sparkling beverage.
Swaying from one side to another, he said: “Yes, we are doing it, but who started it? Who struck the Crimean bridge?”.
Economist and author Anders Aslund said: “This is the first time that I have seen Putin seeming drunk in any context. He talks nonsense as usual, but he seems to realise that he is a loser. Very interesting & promising. All Russians will see that he is drunk & weak.”
“Putin, clearly drunk at today’s Russian military awards ceremony, gets his Kremlin propaganda lies mixed up - it’s supposed to be Crimea that Ukraine denied water to, not Donetsk,” said Ukrainian editor and journalist Euan MacDonald
Russia still set on ‘liberating’ annexed portions of Ukraine, says Kremlin
When Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was asked about the goals of Russia’s “military campaign” in Ukraine on Thursday, he said Russia still has to “liberate” parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
This comes after Moscow proclaimed it had annexed those four regions after holding so-called referendums in September. These referendums were rejected as bogus and illegal by Ukraine, the West and a majority of countries at the UN.
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Russia says there is ‘a lot of work ahead’ to liberate the territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia
Demining Ukraine could take years, says Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky has said demining the Ukrainian territory could go on for years to come as he cited casualties among forces in Kherson who stepped in the mined territory by Russia.
“They did everything for the safety of Ukrainians. Already returning after completing one of the tasks, when they removed weapons and ammunition from the cache of the occupiers, many of which were left in the Kherson region, the policemen stumbled upon a mine trap,” he said in his nightly address.
Mr Zelensky added: And this is the form of Russian terror that will have to be countered for years to come. Terrorists deliberately try to leave behind as many death traps as possible. Buried landmines, tripwire mines, mined buildings, cars and infrastructure... This is more than 170 thousand square kilometres of dangerous territory.”
“I am sure: this will be among the charges against Russia for aggression - precisely mine terror. Which is even more cruel and meaner than a missile one, because there is no anti-mine system that could destroy at least part of the threat, as our air defence does,” he added.
Entire frontline being shelled in Ukraine’s east - officials
Ukrainian officials have said that Russian forces are shelling the entire frontline in Donetsk region.
The fiercest fighting was near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a TV interview.
One civilian has been killed and a dozen buildings have been damaged due to artillery strikes into the town of Toretsk southwest of Bakhmut, Mr Kyrylenko said.
“The entire front line is being shelled”, he said added that the Russian troops were also trying to advance near Lyman, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in November, one of a number of setbacks suffered by Russia since invading its neighbour in February.
Why is US Marine Paul Whelan detained in Russia?
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release from a Russian jail as part of a prisoner swap deal is being hailed as a momentous diplomatic breakthrough, providing hope for other Americans considered “wrongfully detained” by Vladimir Putin’s administration.
Joe Biden has said his administration would “never give up” trying to free other Americans who have been wrongfully detained by Russia, including former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in Russian custody since he was arrested just after Christmas in 2018 on what American officials have described as bogus spying charges.
Mr Whelan, 52, was initially included in swap proposals by the US but was not part of the agreement reached this week, forcing Mr Biden to deny prioritising Ms Griner’s return over his, telling reporters that there “was not a choice of which American to bring home”.
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Canada-born businessman convicted on dubious espionage charges by Moscow court following 2018 arrest and sentenced to 16 years in prison
US planning more sanctions on Russia, China - officials
The United States is planning to impose new sanctions against Russia and China today in a direct rebuke to Moscow for using Iranian drones in its war against Ukraine, two US officials said.
The sanctions are expected to target a number of Russian defense industry entities involved in the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia, the officials said.
These sanctions will also be aimed at around 170 entities for illegal fishing in the Pacific as Washington is flagging China’s over-fishing in the region and using its fishing fleet to expand Beijing’s influence in the Pacific waters.
240 Russian soldiers wounded
The Ukrainian general staff said its forces had attacked Russian positions and troop assembly points in at least half a dozen towns in the south of Ukraine, in a war update this morning.
Russian losses amounted to about 240 wounded, with three ammunition depots and about various military equipment destroyed, it added.
Russia recommencing attacks with newly delivered Iranian drones - MoD
Russia has revived its use of Iranian drones in the Ukraine war, with the fresh use seen in the besieged country’s east this week, the British defence ministry said today.
“For the first time in three weeks, there have been reports of attacks by Iranian-provided one-way attack (OWA) uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs),” the ministry said.
It is likely that the Kremlin has exhausted its previous stock of several hundred Shahed-131s and 136s and has now received a resupply.
The British defence ministry said that the Ukrainian General Staff reported shooting down 17 UAVs, including 14 Shahed-136s on Tuesday, followed by the use of Iranian-provided OWA UAVs targeting Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts on Wednesday this week.
“The last previously reported shooting down of Iranian Shahed-136s in Ukraine was on 17 November 2022. If verified, it is likely that Russia has recommenced attacks with newly delivered OWA UAV systems,” the MoD said.
Five killed in Donetsk oblast
Five civilians were killed and a further two injured in Russian attacks on the Donetsk oblast yesterday.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk oblast, confirmed the casualties in an update this morning.
Three people were also killed in Bakhmut, one person in Netailovo and one in Toretsk following Russian attacks.
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