Ukraine blames Russia’s attack on fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

A fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been extinguished after an alleged Russian attack, raising international alarm about Moscow’s war in another night of devastating shelling.

World leaders condemned the attack on the Zaporizhzhia plant after the fire broke out in the early hours, with Joe Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire at the nuclear site in southeastern Ukraine.

By dawn, Ukrainian authorities, who had blamed Russian shelling, reported that the fire at “an education and training building” had been extinguished. No casualties or abnormal radiation levels were reported at the scene.

The incident followed another brutal bombardment of Ukraine’s urban centers, including a devastating siege of the port city of Mariupol, whose population of nearly half a million is lacking food, water and electricity. .

Oil prices spiked above $114 a barrel and global shares fell as markets reacted to warnings of grim developments on the ninth night of the war. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell as much as 3% before recovering and trading 2% lower.

Global commodity prices are on track for their biggest weekly gain in more than five decades as Russia’s invasion spurs prices for grains, metals and energy around the world. Wheat futures closed up nearly 22% at a 14-year high of $12.89 a bushel.

Referring to the “global disaster” of Chernobyl in 1986, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky contacted half a dozen world leaders early Friday, accusing Russia of deliberately targeting the reactors. Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, condemned Putin’s “reckless act” while Canada’s Justin Trudeau called for the “horrific attacks” to stop immediately.

In the incident, Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation and called on all parties to “refrain from any possible actions.” [nuclear plants] in danger”.

The IAEA later said Ukrainian regulators had reported no change in radiation levels at the facility. It added that the fire had not affected “essential” equipment and that staff at the facility were taking “mitigation actions”. The agency said the regulator had informed them that battles were taking place in Enerhodar, a few kilometers from the plant.

The fire came after a day in which Russia kept the Ukrainian port of Mariupol and the Ukrainian cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv relentless. shoot. Ukraine’s military, in an update on Monday, said the Russian army was trying to “weak the resistance” of besieged cities.

Military analysts say the main goal of the Russian military remains to besiege the capital Kyiv, an advance that Western officials say has made little progress within days because of the setbacks. on tactics and logistics.

Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, has come under heavy shelling this week. In Mariupol, officials say the city has been completely surrounded by Russian troops who are shelling the town heavily, and residents are living without electricity, water, internet access or heat in the winter. below 0 degrees.

“I feel like the Russians are planning to smash the city and destroy it – to capture it, not take it over,” said Diana Berg, a resident fleeing the besieged city this week. city ​​- just destroy it”. “For the past eight years, it has been a symbol of resistance, and a leading symbol of the long war with Russia.”

Berg said the shelling hit civilian buildings including residential areas, schools and a newborn hospital.

“The most horrifying thing was that there wasn’t any communication, and there was no electricity, no electricity, no heat and no water. “I know Kharkiv and Kyiv are also suffering, but they still have a connection to tell about it.”

During a second round of talks on Thursday, Russian and Ukrainian delegations agreed to establish routes for the evacuation of civilians from Ukrainian cities hard-hit by the war. However, the negotiations ended without reaching a truce.

Putin appeared on state TV to say he would “never give up” [his] believes that Russians and Ukrainians are one people”, adding that Russian troops fought “heroic”.

Stepping up efforts to make it difficult for the Russian economy, the US has issued new sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and their families, as well as Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

But the White House has rejected a bipartisan call to ban Russian oil imports into the United States, saying the embargo would limit global supply and raise prices for consumers.

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