Russian forces launched almost 400 strikes in Ukraine’s east on Sunday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy says; UN nuclear watchdog to assess Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after renewed shelling
Russian forces launched almost 400 strikes on Sunday in Ukraine’s east as part of a campaign of artillery fire, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Sunday night address. “The fiercest battles, as before, are in the Donetsk region. Although there were fewer attacks today due to worsening weather, the amount of Russian shelling unfortunately remains extremely high,” Zelenskiy said. “In the Luhansk region, we are slowly moving forward while fighting. As of now, there have been almost 400 artillery attacks in the east since the start of the day.” Russia has moved troops to reinforce positions in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions after withdrawing from Kherson.
The UN nuclear watchdog will conduct an assessment of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Monday after the site was shelled more than a dozen times over the weekend. The blasts damaged buildings and equipment, though none had been “critical” for nuclear safety and security, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. Its head, Rafael Grossi, said the forces behind the shelling were “playing with fire”, adding that “it must stop immediately”.
Germany has offered Poland the Patriot missile defence system to help it to secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed in the country last week, the defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, said. “We have offered Poland support in securing airspace – with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence systems,” Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post and General Anzeiger. Ground-based air defence systems such as Raytheon’s Patriot are built to intercept incoming missiles.
Ukraine has denies its forces executed Russian prisoners of war, arguing its soldiers were defending themselves against Russians who feigned surrender. The Ukrainian parliament’s commissioner for human rights responded on Sunday to videos circulated on Russian social media this week purporting to show the bodies of Russian servicemen killed after surrendering to Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said “excerpts” of a video showed that Russians “using a staged capture … committed a war crime by opening fire on the Ukrainian armed forces”. This means the soldiers “cannot be considered prisoners of war”, he said. A UN spokesperson told AFP it was “aware of the videos” and was “looking into them”.
Negotiating with Russia would be “capitulation”, a key adviser to the Ukrainian presidency has said. Mykhaylo Podolyak said attempts by the west to urge Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow were “bizarre” given a series of major military victories by Kyiv. He added it would mean that a country “that recovers its territories must capitulate to the country that is losing”. The comments come after recent US media reports that some senior officials were beginning to encourage Ukraine to consider talks.
The first Ukrainian supermarket has opened in Kherson since the city was liberated earlier this month. ATB, a 24/7 shop in the city, had queues of people outside on Sunday as it welcomed customers back. Kherson remains without electricity, running water or heating, but residents found some relief in being able to purchase Ukrainian pickled gherkins, dumplings, horseradish and other favourites.
France has sent another two air defence systems to Ukraine, along with two multiple rocket launchers, according to an interview given by a French defence minister.
Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of feeding disinformation to further its “predatory project” in Africa, where France has had military setbacks. In an interview with TV5 Monde on the sidelines of a conference of Francophone nations in Tunisia, the French president said there was a “predatory project” pushing disinformation into African countries, which was “a political project financed by Russia, sometimes others”. Macron said: “A number of powers, who want to spread their influence in Africa, are doing this to hurt France, hurt its language, sow doubts, but above all pursue certain interests.”