Zelenskiy urges Russians to ‘go home’ as Ukraine continues offensive in south

  • “Ukraine takes back its people” – Zelenskiy
  • Russia says Ukraine suffered heavy losses
  • Ukrainian shelling knocks out power in Russian-held town – RIA
  • IAEA mission hopes to defuse tensions over nuclear power plants

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine/KYIV, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Russian troops to flee for their lives as his forces launched an offensive near the city of Kherson, saying the Ukrainian military was resuming its territory although Russia declared the aggression had failed.

Ukraine’s offensive in the south comes after weeks of stalemate in a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, destroyed cities and sparked a global energy and food crisis amid economic sanctions unprecedented.

It has also fueled fears of a radioactive disaster triggered by the bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, where Russian authorities reported artillery strikes near a nuclear storage building on Tuesday. spent fuel.

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Zelenskiy, in his nightly speech on Monday evening, vowed that Ukrainian troops would pursue the Russian army “to the border”.

“If they want to survive, it’s time for the Russian army to flee. Go home,” he said.

“Ukraine is taking back its own,” Zelenskiy said.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Zelenskiy, commenting on the offensive in the Kherson region, said the Russian defenses were “breakthrough within hours”.

Ukrainian forces were shelling ferries that Russia was using to supply a pocket of territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, he added.

The British Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces had stepped up artillery fire in the south and their long-range precision strikes were disrupting Russian resupplies.

Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne reported explosions in the Kherson region on Tuesday and residents of the city reported in social media posts gunfire and explosions, but said it was unclear who was shooting.

Ukraine’s military headquarters, in a Tuesday morning update, reported clashes in various parts of the country but gave no information on the Kherson offensive.

‘LACK’

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian troops attempted an offensive in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions but suffered heavy casualties, the RIA news agency reported.

“The enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably,” he said.

But a Ukrainian barrage of rockets left the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka without water or electricity, officials from the Russian-appointed authority told the RIA news agency.

Reuters could not verify reports from the battlefield.

The Russian bombardment of the port city of Mykolaiv, which remained in Ukrainian hands despite repeated Russian shelling, left at least two people dead, injured some 24 people and destroyed homes, city officials and witnesses said on Monday. .

A Reuters correspondent reported that a strike hit a family home right next to a school, killing a woman. Read more

The owner of the property, Olexandr Shulga, said he had lived there all his life and his wife died when she was buried in the rubble. “He hit and the shock wave came. He destroyed everything,” he said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 to conduct what it says is a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and its allies describe it as an unprovoked war of aggression.

The conflict, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has largely turned into a war of attrition, mainly in the south and east, marked by artillery bombardment and airstrikes. Russia captured whole swaths of the south early on.

IAEA NUCLEAR MISSION

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, captured by Russian troops in March but still manned by Ukrainian personnel, has been a hot spot in the conflict, with both sides blaming each other for shelling in the vicinity.

Russian-installed authorities accused Ukrainian troops of firing two shells that exploded near a spent fuel storage building at the plant, TASS news agency reported. There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian side.

A mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is heading to the facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, and is expected later this week to inspect and assess any damage.

Led by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, the mission will assess working conditions and check safety and security systems, the Vienna-based organization said.

It “will also carry out urgent safeguards activities”, a reference to the tracking of nuclear materials.

Map locating the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory

A senior Russian diplomat said Moscow hoped the mission would dispel misconceptions about the plant’s allegedly poor condition. Read more

The Kremlin said the IAEA mission was “necessary” and urged the international community to pressure Ukraine to reduce military tension at the plant. The mission must do its job in a politically neutral way, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The United Nations, United States and Ukraine have called for the withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the complex to ensure it is not a target. Read more

The Kremlin has ruled out abandoning the site.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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