Explosions hit Crimea, Russian missile injures 12 near nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine

Aug 20 (Reuters) – Fresh explosions erupted across Russia’s annexed Crimean peninsula on Saturday and a Russian missile hit a residential area in a southern Ukrainian town not far from a nuclear power plant, injuring 12 civilians, Russian and Ukrainian officials said.

This strike at the Pivdennukrainsk nuclear power plant (southern Ukraine) and the new bombardments near the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest such installation in Europe, raised new fears of a nuclear accident during the war, Ukrainian officials said.

In Crimea, Ukrainian territory seized and annexed by Russia during a 2014 incursion into Ukraine, the Russian-appointed governor not recognized by the West said a drone struck a building near the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

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“A drone flew over the roof. It was flying low,” Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram. “He was shot down just above Fleet Headquarters. He fell on the roof and burned. The attack failed.”

Razvozhayev issued a new statement on Telegram in the evening, saying the area’s anti-aircraft system had worked again and asking residents to stop filming and broadcasting footage of its operation.

Ukrainian media reported explosions in nearby towns – including the resorts of Yevpatoriya, Olenivka and Zaozyornoye.

Explosions and fires rocked Crimea last week, including an explosion at a Russian airbase that appeared to destroy large numbers of planes, satellite photos show.

Ukrainian officials did not comment. Analysts said the attacks were made possible by new equipment used by the Ukrainian military and predicted more would occur.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy indirectly referred to the incidents in Crimea in his nightly video address, saying there was anticipation on the peninsula ahead of the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule next week.

“You can literally smell Crimea in the air this year, that the occupation there is only temporary and Ukraine is coming back,” he said.

CHILDREN AMONG THE INJURED

Following the strike near the power plant in southern Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that four children were among the injured. Private homes and a five-storey building were damaged in Voznesensk, 30 km (19 miles) from the plant, the second largest in Ukraine.

The Mykolaiv region prosecutor general’s office, updating an earlier toll, said 12 civilians were injured.

State-owned Energoatom, which runs Ukraine’s four nuclear power generators, described the Voznesensk attack as “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism”.

“It is possible that this missile was specifically aimed at the Pivdennukrainsk nuclear power plant, which the Russian military tried to take over in early March,” Energoatom said in a statement.

Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters was unable to verify the situation in Voznesensk. No damage was reported at the plant in southern Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have traded fresh bombing charges around the Zaporizhzhia station, which has been held by Russia since March.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the nearby town of Enerhodar, said Ukrainian forces launched at least four strikes on the plant. Yevhen Yetushenko, mayor of Ukrainian-controlled Nikopol on the opposite bank of the Dnipro, said Russian forces shelled the town several times.

Talks have been underway for more than a week to arrange a visit to the plant by the United Nations nuclear energy agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Ukrainian authorities have called on the United Nations and other international organizations to force Russian forces out of the Zaporizhzhia plant. Read more

And in Mariupol, a city in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia after weeks of bombardment, officials said the new Russian-appointed mayor, Konstantin Ivashchenko, survived an assassination attempt.

“It didn’t work out,” Petro Andryushchenko, an ousted city council official, said on Telegram. “But that’s only the beginning.”

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets, editing by Ron Popeski, Diane Craft and Chris Reese

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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