Russia accused of shelling from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine

·7-min read
© Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters

The president of the Ukrainian nuclear agency said on Friday that Russian forces are using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine as a base for storing and launching weapons. Russia’s defence ministry said Saturday that its forces destroyed a Ukrainian factory in the city of Dnipro that produced parts for Tochka-U ballistic missiles. Read about the day's events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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10:27pm: West must not forget Africa’s security needs amid Ukraine war, France’s armed forces minister says

The war in Ukraine "concerns the West as a whole" but at the same time must not lead to "forgetting Africa's security" needs, France's Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu said Saturday.

"We have a form of myopia in Europe and France, where the Ukraine war mobilises all our energy, and that is natural – it is a conflict that concerns the West as a whole," said Lecornu in Ivory Coast after a visit to Niger.

"Yet it should not lead to forgetting about news on security in Africa," he argued ahead of meeting with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.

6:41pm: Mayor of Ukraine's Pokrovsk says Russian strike caused casualties, damaged residential buildings

The mayor of Pokrovsk, a city in the western part of Ukraine's Donetsk province, said that a Russian strike on Saturday caused casualties and damaged residential buildings.

"It does seem that this is part of a pattern of Russia stepping up its attacks," reports FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg.

3:51pm: G20 finance ministers pledge to address global food shortages, don’t reach consensus on Ukraine war

The Group of 20 major economies' finance chiefs on Saturday pledged to address global food insecurity and rising debt, but made few policy breakthroughs amid divisions over Russia's war in Ukraine at a two-day meeting in Indonesia.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the differences had prevented the finance ministers and central bankers from issuing a formal communiqué but that the group had "strong consensus" on the need to address a worsening food security crisis.

Host Indonesia will issue a chair's statement instead. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said most topics were agreed by all members except for particular statements about the war in Ukraine. She described it as the "best result" the group could have achieved at this meeting.

Western countries have enforced strict sanctions against Russia, but other G20 nations, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their response.

"This is a challenging time because Russia is part of the G20 and doesn't agree with the rest of us on how to characterize the war," Yellen said, but stressed the disagreement should not prevent progress on pressing global issues.

Russia's finance minister attended the meeting virtually while his deputy attended in person. Ukraine's finance minister addressed the session virtually where he called for "more severe targeted sanctions".

Indonesia's Sri Mulyani said all G20 members agreed that food insecurity requires special attention and she called for removal of trade protections that prevented flow of food supplies.

Analysts said the failure to agree on a communiqué reflected the weakness of the once-mighty economic grouping.

"We are in a rudderless moment in the world economy with the G20 paralysed by Putin's war and the G7 unable to lead on global public goods," said Kevin Gallagher, who heads the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University.

12:26pm: Russia says it destroyed Ukrainian factory producing Tochka-U missile parts

Russian armed forces have destroyed a factory in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro that produced parts for Tochka-U ballistic missiles, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Russian forces have also shot down three Ukrainian airplanes and two helicopters, the ministry said.

11:14am: Renewed Russian attacks hit several areas in Ukraine

Russia stepped up its onslaught against Ukraine on Saturday, with civilian casualties reported in several areas of the country.

In the Sumy region, one civilian was killed and at least seven more were injured after Russians opened mortar and artillery fire on three towns and villages not far from the Russian border, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on Telegram Saturday morning.

Seven civilians were killed and 14 more received injuries over in the most recent 24 hours in cities in Ukraine’s embattled eastern Donetsk region, its governor said Saturday morning.

Russia’s defense chief told troops to step up operations across Ukrainian territory, according to social media updates from the defense ministry on Saturday.

A Facebook post said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave "instructions to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas, in order to exclude the possibility of the Kyiv regime to launch massive rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements in Donbas and other regions.”

09:30am: Russian strike kills three in Kharkiv region

A Russian strike hit the northeast Ukrainian town of Chuhuiv in the Kharkiv region overnight, killing three people including a woman of 70, and wounding three more, the regional governor said.

The strike damaged a residential block, a school and a shop, and rescuers were going through the rubble, Governor Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, denies targeting civilians.

08:06am: Overnight explosions heard in cities in central and south Ukraine

Overnight explosions made for a tense night in Ukraine, where cities have recently come under increased attack from Russia. Early Saturday morning explosions were heard in the cities of Kremenchuk and Odesa. Fires are reportedly still burning in the latter.

"It's been a pretty tense night in Ukraine," says France 24's Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Dnipro, which was hit by Russian attacks on Friday reportedly killing three and injuring 14.

06:41am: Russia accused of deploying missiles from captured Ukraine nuclear plant

Russia is using Europe's largest nuclear power plant as a base to store weapons, including "missile systems", and is using it as a base from which to shell the surrounding areas in Ukraine, an official with Kyiv's nuclear agency said Friday, while nearly the entire country was placed on air raid alert.

The president of Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom said the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was "extremely tense", with up to 500 Russian soldiers controlling the plant.

"The occupiers bring their machinery there, including missile systems, from which they already shell the other side of the river Dnipro and the territory of Nikopol," Pedro Kotin said in a televised interview, referring to the city across the water.

The plant in southwestern Ukraine has been under Russian control since the early weeks of Moscow's invasion, though it is still being operated by Ukrainian staff.

The threat of air raids across most of Ukraine was also raised after strikes were reported in areas far from the front lines, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying the Russian objective was to "cause maximum damage to Ukrainian cities".

"I'm urging you, once again: please don't ignore the air raid signals now," he said in his daily televised address.

04:56am: Bomb sirens sound again in Kyiv as Russia steps up attacks

Air-raid sirens sounded across Kyiv on Saturday as Russia stepped up long-range bombardment of Ukrainian cities that has killed at least 34 people in the last three days and wounded scores.

Late on Friday, Russian missiles hit the central city of Dnipro, killing three people and wounding 15, regional Governor Valentyn Reznychenko said on Telegram. Rockets hit an industrial plant and a street next to it, he said. Footage on social media showed thick black smoke rising from the buildings and burning cars.

Eight people were killed and 13 injured in a string of shellings in 10 locations in the eastern region of Donetsk, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a television interview.

On Thursday, Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea hit an office building in Vinnytsia, a city of 370,000 people about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Kyiv.

Kyiv said the strike killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens.

>> Prosecutors gather evidence of 'war crime' in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

The attacks were the latest in a series of Russian hits in recent weeks using long-range missiles on crowded buildings in cities far from the front, each killing dozens of people.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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