Russian shelling across the river from Ukraine’s main nuclear power plant injured four people on Monday, an official said, hours after the latest international calls to spare the region from attacks to avert disaster.
Meanwhile, Russia has blamed Ukrainian spy agencies for the car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow over the weekend that killed the daughter of an ardent far-right Russian political thinker supporter of the invasion of Ukraine.
On the battlefield, the town of Nikopol, about 10 km downstream from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, came under rocket and mortar shell fire three times overnight. Homes, a kindergarten, a bus station and shops were hit, authorities said.
Mayor Oleksandr Saiuk said four people were injured and two of them were taken to hospital.
Reports of sustained bombardment around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant have further underscored the dangers of a war that will reach mid-term on Wednesday.
After United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged caution during a visit to Ukraine last week, President Biden discussed the issue further with French, German and British leaders on Sunday.
The four leaders stressed the need to avoid military operations in the region to avert a nuclear disaster and demanded that the UN atomic energy agency be allowed to visit the plant as soon as possible.
On Saturday night, a car bomb killed 29-year-old TV commentator Darya Dugina, whose father, political theorist Alexander Dugin, is often called “Putin’s mastermind”.
On Monday, Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB, said the murder was “planned and carried out by Ukrainian special services”. He alleged that the bombing was carried out by a Ukrainian citizen who later left Russia for Estonia.
Ukrainian officials have denied any involvement.
In the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, anxiety has spread following a series of fires and explosions at Russian facilities over the past two weeks. Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev ordered signs indicating the location of bomb shelters to be placed in the city, which had long seemed untouchable.
Sevastopol, the Crimean port that is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has seen a series of drone attacks. A drone exploded at fleet headquarters on July 31 and another was shot down last week. Authorities said air defense systems also shot down other drones.
Razvozhaev said on Telegram that the city is well protected, but “it is better to know where the shelters are”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not directly mention the war during a speech marking National Flag Day on Monday, but echoed some of the justifications cited for the invasion.
“We are determined to pursue on the international stage only those policies that meet the fundamental interests of the motherland,” Putin said. He argues that Russia sent troops to Ukraine to protect it from Western encroachment.