A call has been made to demilitarize the area around the Ukrainian nuclear plant to avoid “irreparable consequences”.
The western city of Nikopol has been under daily shelling for much of the past week, with people killed and buildings destroyed.
The site is located across the Dnieper River from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, and both Russia and Ukrainian officials for days accused each other of shelling in violation of nuclear safety rules.
The Russian military has occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant since the early days of Moscow’s invasion, although the plant’s prewar Ukrainian nuclear workers continue to run it.
Ukrainian military intelligence said Saturday that Russian military shelling damaged a pumping station and a fire station at the compound.
And Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukrainetweeted that people were fleeing the area and showed video of what appeared to be an explosion.
Sky News was unable to determine the geographic location of the video.
The governor of Zaporizhzhia has now called for the demilitarization of the plant – and international agencies to enforce it.
“The best option should be demilitarization,” said Oleksandr Starukh.
“There needs to be a response on the part of the international structures. They should protect this position so that there are no weapons in or near the nuclear plant.”
In his video address, Mr Starukh added: “Sooner or later, having troops and ammunition stationed there could lead to irreparable consequences.”
He called for enforcement of the rules of bodies such as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
“Unfortunately, all the rules of war and all the rules developed by the IAEA, the body that controls all matters of nuclear safety, they don’t work, and some of them don’t. in effect and must be corrected.
“Thank God they didn’t shoot at objects that pose a nuclear threat, and the radiation background is within the normal range.
“But at the same time, sooner or later, having troops and ammunition stationed there could lead to irreparable consequences.”
He said there should be “no weapons in or near the nuclear plant … So that it doesn’t happen that the peaceful cities of Marhanets and Nikopol are covered by a nuclear plant.”
His comment was echoed by the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly speech to the nation.
“The occupiers are trying to intimidate people in an extremely mocking way, using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” he said.
“They actually hid behind the factory to shoot at Nikopol and (nearby) the Marhanets.
“Absolutely all officials of the terrorist state, as well as those who help them in this nuclear power plant blackmail operation, must be tried by an international court.”
Meanwhile, across the country, Russian troops attacked other populated areas, as Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack to try to retake the occupied southern region, attacking the bridge. last operation across a river in the Russian-occupied Kherson area.
A Russian missile attack on the city of Kramatorsk killed three people and wounded 13 others on Friday, according to the mayor.
Kramatorsk is the headquarters of Ukrainian forces in the war-torn east of the country.
The attack comes less than a day after 11 other rockets were fired at the city, one of the two main rockets held by Ukraine in Donetsk province, the focus of Russia’s ongoing offensive to capture the Donbas region. , Eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday announced its forces had taken control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of Donetsk, the capital of the province that pro-Moscow separatists have claimed since 2014.
Russian troops and Kremlin-backed rebels are trying to capture Ukrainian-held areas north and west of the city of Donetsk to expand the separatists’ self-proclaimed republic.
But the Ukrainian military on Saturday said its forces prevented an overnight advance to the smaller cities of Avdiivka and Bakhmut.