May 14, 2022

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Heavy fighting sparks fire outside nuclear plant in Ukraine – officials

Heavy fighting sparks fire outside nuclear plant in Ukraine - officials
  • No signs of elevated radiation – RIA
  • Heavy fighting in the area around the nuclear plant
  • The advance of Russian forces outside Kyiv was halted
  • The total number of refugees exceeds one million – UNHCR
  • Ukraine’s president says defense lines are holding up

Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday that a fire broke out in a training building outside Europe’s largest nuclear power plant during heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of high radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhya plant, which provides more than a fifth of all electricity generated in Ukraine.

A video from the factory, verified by Reuters, showed shelling and smoke rising near a building in the factory compound.

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The mayor of the nearby town of Energodar said in an online post that fierce battles took place in the area, about 550 km southeast of Kyiv. He added, without elaborating on any injuries.

“As a result of the enemy’s continuous bombing of buildings and units at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant caught fire,” Mayor Dmytro Orlov said in his Telegram channel.

Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, about 100 kilometers north of Kyiv, which dumped radioactive waste across much of Europe when it melted in 1986. Some analysts said the Zaporizhzhya plant is a different and safer variant.

Early reports of the accident at the power plant sent financial markets up in Asia, with stocks plummeting and oil prices rising even more.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to get an update on the situation at the plant.

“President Biden joined President Zelensky in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the region and allow firefighters and paramedics access to the site,” the White House said.

Energy Minister Granholm said on Twitter that the reactors in Zaporizhia are “protected by robust containment structures” and “are safely closed”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian army was “shooting from all sides” at the plant.

“A fire has already broken out…the Russians should stop the fire immediately, let the firefighters go, and set up a security zone!” wrote on Twitter.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a tweet on Twitter that it was “aware of reports of bombing” of the power plant and was in contact with the Ukrainian authorities.

Sanctions installation

As the largest attack on a European country since World War II enters its ninth day, thousands are believed to have been killed or injured, a million refugees have fled Ukraine and the Russian economy has come under international sanctions.

The United States and Britain announced sanctions against more Russian oligarchs on Thursday, following the European Union’s measures, as they escalated pressure on the Kremlin.

More companies including Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, footwear giant Nike and Swedish furniture maker IKEA have closed or scaled back their operations in Russia as trade and supply restrictions have added to political pressure. Read more

Biden said the sanctions “really had a profound effect.”

Russia describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” that aims not to occupy territory but to overthrow the democratically elected government, destroy the military capabilities of its neighbors and arrest what it considers dangerous nationalists. It denies targeting civilians.

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Additional reporting by Pavel Politiuk, Natalia Zenets and Aleksandr Vasovich in Ukraine, David Leungren in Ottawa and other Reuters offices; Written by Costas Pettas and Lincoln Fest; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.