KYIV, Ukraine –
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant involved in Russia’s war in Ukraine is operating under a state of emergency with a higher level of risk, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy operator said on Friday.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, consisting of six reactors, was under the control of Russian forces at the outset of the war that began in February, but is being operated by Ukrainian personnel. The factory and surrounding areas have been repeatedly hit by shelling, which Russia and Ukraine blame each other’s forces.
The last power line connecting the plant to the Ukrainian grid was cut Monday, leaving the plant without external power and receiving power for its own safety systems from one of the six remaining reactors. motion.
Energoatom, the state’s nuclear operator, said Friday that repairs to external lines were not possible because shelling and operations on the so-called “islands” carried “the risk of violating the radiation and explosion safety standards.”
Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, said: “Only withdrawing the Russians from the plant and creating a security zone around it can normalize the situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP. Only then, the world will I can breathe a sigh of relief.” Ukrainian Television.
Kotin explained in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that the only operating reactor “could be completely shut down” at any time and therefore the only source of power would be a diesel generator.
There are 20 generators on site and enough diesel fuel for 10 days. After that, about 200 tons of diesel fuel would be needed daily for the generators, which he said was “impossible” while the plant was occupied by Russian troops.
Fighting continued Friday in parts of southern and eastern Ukraine and in the north where Ukraine claims to have recently pushed Russian forces out of some areas.
Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, governor of the Sumy region, said Russian planes bombed the hospital in the town of Velika Pysarivka, on the border with Russia. He said the building was destroyed and the number of casualties was unknown.
In the eastern Donetsk region – one of two places Russia claimed as a sovereign state at the start of the war – eight people have been killed in the city of Bakhmut in the past day and the city has no water or electricity. Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said for the fourth day in a row.
According to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov, four people were killed in shelling in the Kharkiv region, two of them in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest. Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the shelling of the city continued on Friday afternoon, injuring 10 people, including three children.
Ukraine this week announced it had regained control of more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region, including the small city of Balakliya.
Social media posts show Balakliya residents crying and smiling hugging Ukrainian soldiers.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday declined to comment on the alleged recapture of Balakliya, referring all questions about it to the Russian Defense Ministry.
But Vitaly Ginchev, the Russian-installed official in the Kharkiv region, on Friday confirmed that “Balakliya is, in fact, not under our control.” Ginchev said that “difficult battles” are ongoing in the city and that Russian forces are trying to expel the Ukrainian army.
Ukraine’s National Guard on Friday also confirmed the recapture of Volokhiv Yar, a village 19 kilometers (11 miles) from Balakliya.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Ukrainian TV channel on Friday that Ukrainian forces are trying to regain control of Kupianksk – an important city in the Kharkiv region through which Russian troops in the region are stationed. get all their supplies.
“It’s an important transport hub that we need to recapture and then see if we should go north or a little further south, thus dividing this group of Russian troops,” Podolyak said. and prevent them from replenishing supplies. .
Helicopters and warplanes were lined up across the vast plains of the Donetsk region, with the jets heading towards Izium, close to where Ukrainian forces were carrying out a counterattack in the area. Kharkiv. Jets fired flares while black smoke billowed in the distance.
Associated Press writer Elena Becatoros of the Donetsk region, Ukraine, contributed to this report