Ukraine is engaging in “nuclear terrorism” by shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Russia’s defense minister said on Friday.
The plant faced Ukrainian attacks even after the arrival of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team, Sergey Shoygu said in a meeting with military commanders in Moscow.
He denied that Russia has heavy weapons at the nuclear plant, asserting that the IAEA can verify Moscow’s claim.
Since July 18, Zaporizhzhia has been shelled 29 times, including attacks with kamikaze drones, he said.
There have been growing fears of a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia, under Russian control since March, as Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for shelling the facility.
An IAEA mission led by the agency’s chief Rafael Grossi reached the plant on Thursday for inspections.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to international institutions in Vienna, said on Friday that two IAEA officials will stay at the nuclear plant “on a permanent basis.”
Shoygu accused Kyiv of “creating a real threat of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe” by targeting the continent’s largest nuclear power plant.
“Under international law, this is nothing but nuclear terrorism,” said Shoygu.
Russia hopes the world will get to see the “objective results” of the IAEA mission, he added.
Russian gains in Donbas
Ukrainian military positions in Donbas were “breached” by Russian forces in the past two weeks, according to Shoygu.
He said the Russian army has taken control of a major Ukrainian defense unit in the Peski settlement, while Ukrainian forces suffered significant losses in their counter-offensive.
The counteroffensive was planned by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just to give Ukraine’s Western benefactors the illusion that its forces have the ability to put up a fight, Shoygu added.
Russia claimed control of Ukraine’s self-proclaimed independent enclave of Luhansk in July, and has since been focused on capturing Donetsk.
Donetsk and Luhansk, part of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region that borders Russia, both claim to be independent territories.
President Vladimir Putin recognized their “independence” just before Russia launched the war on Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Donetsk and Luhansk were the scene of a Russian-backed insurgency starting in 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
As with Crimea, all of Donbas is still internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory, and the country’s armed forces continue to fight for it.
Special military operation progressing successfully’
Shoygu said Moscow’s “special military operation” – the term used by Russia for the Ukraine war – is “progressing successfully.”
Over the past month, 19 Ukrainian planes, six helicopters, 188 unmanned aerial vehicles and 226 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) were destroyed, according to the minister.
As Ukrainian forces suffer mounting losses, the influx of foreign mercenaries has also subsided, he said.
“Their number has decreased by more than three-and-a-half times since February. Almost 3,000 mercenaries have been eliminated,” he added.
Shoygu said Russia is working to develop new weapons and enhance its military capabilities.
“Currently, our focus is on creating a training ground for sea aviation, including facilities to test electromagnetic catapults,” he said, referring to launch systems for jets based on aircraft carriers.Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Eylül 2022, 22:47