Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of using its control of a nuclear power plant to launch a rocket strike on a neighbouring town, killing at least 13 people and injuring many more.

The town Ukraine claims Russia targeted, Marhanets, had previously been used by Russian forces to shell Russian forces holed up in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility, which they took over in March.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of endangering the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant by attacking each other in its vicinity.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief, Rafael Grossi, has encouraged all parties to exhibit moderation, warning of the “very real risk of a nuclear disaster.” 

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven main industrialised countries demanded on Wednesday that Russia promptly return control of the facility to Ukraine, something Moscow appears unlikely to do.

Russia made no immediate reaction on Ukrainian reports of a missile attack on Marhanets, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the charges.

Moscow claims it does not purposefully attack people in its “special military operation” in Ukraine, which is intended to protect its own security against NATO military alliance expansion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, accused Russia of conducting assaults on Ukrainian communities with impunity from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, knowing that fighting back would be risky.

“Eighty reactive rockets fired at residential buildings,” Yermak posted on Telegram, alluding to the Marhanets incident.

“The terrorist nation is continuing to fight against civilians. The cowardly Russians can’t do anything more so they strike towns ignobly hiding at the Zaporizhzhia atomic power station”, he wrote.

Ukraine claims that 500 Russian troops with heavy trucks and weaponry are stationed at the plant, while Ukrainian technicians are still working.

Russia claims that its forces are acting properly and are doing all possible to safeguard the facility’s safety. Moscow claims Ukrainian forces shelled the plant, which Kiev denies.

The governor of Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznychenko, confirmed on Wednesday that the Russian strike on Marhanets was carried out with 80 Grad missiles.

According to him, more than 20 structures in the town, which is located on the other bank of the Dnipro River from the power station, had been destroyed.

The same attack damaged a power line, leaving thousands of people without power, he added. He also mentioned that a dormitory, two schools, a concert hall, the main council building, and other administrative buildings had been damaged.

Images provided by Ukrainian officials showed a rubble-strewn corridor of a school with its windows blown out and a residential structure penetrated by a rocket.

Source: Reuters

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