US accuses Russia of “war crimes” with power plant attack
The war intook a dangerous turn on Friday when Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces were blamed before taking control of the facility. Ukraine’s Atomic Energy Agency said a fire sparked by Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, some 400 miles south-east of Kyiv, has been extinguished with no risk of radiation leaks.
Russia blamed Ukraine for the fire, calling it a “monstrous provocation,” but the US embassy in Kyiv accused Putin of a “war crime” by “shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.”
Putin’s brutal invasion entered its ninth day as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused him of “nuclear terrorism” and officials in the northeastern city of Chernihiv reported dozens of civilian deaths from indiscriminate Russian shelling.
In a video address Thursday night, Putin claimed his “military special operation” to rid Ukraine of what he calls a “neo-Nazi” regime went according to plan. However, with ground forces slow to move towards the capital and pressure from unprecedented international sanctions mounting rapidly, the Russian military is increasingly relying on heavy artillery to force Ukrainians into submission. They put up fierce resistance.
Moscow insists it only hits military targets, but with homes destroyed and schools and hospitals damaged, the UN says at least 249 civilians were killed, and it concedes the true number is likely “considerably higher”. Ukrainian officials put them at over 2,000. The UN says the attack has already displaced more than 2 million people from their homes.
Russian troops have surrounded at least five cities in the south and east, and US officials say they could surround the capital, Kyiv, within days. The West, however, refuses to risk direct military engagement with Russian forces and dismisses mounting calls for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“The coming days will probably get even worse, with more deaths, more suffering and more destruction,” said the NATO chief on Friday.