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Zelenskiy says Ukrainian forces will target Russian troops who shoot at nuclear power plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 11, 2022. (Screenshot).

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Ukrainian forces will target any Russian soldiers who shoot at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant as the two sides continue to trade blame over recent incidents of shelling at the plant.

“Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on August 13.

The situation at the plant caused heightened alarm this week at the United Nations and the UN’s nuclear energy watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Both have said IAEA inspectors should be allowed to visit the plant, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a demilitarized zone to be set up around it.

Zelenskiy in his nightly address said recent shelling at the plant has increased the threat of a leak of radiation, and he said Ukrainian diplomats and partner states “will do everything to ensure” that new sanctions block the Russian nuclear industry.

Western countries have called for Moscow to withdraw its forces from the plant, which has been under Russian control since shortly after the February 24 invasion. Ukrainian engineers are operating the facility under Russian supervision.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency earlier on August 13 warned of fresh Russian “provocations” around the plant, while the mayor of the town where the plant is located said it had come under fresh Russian shelling.

Russia has disputed the claims, saying Ukrainian forces fired nine artillery shells at the area near the plant. Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed regional administration, said on August 12 that the strikes may lead to an emergency reactor shutdown.

On the battlefield, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed on August 13 to have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of Donetsk, while Ukraine’s military command said later that “fierce fighting” continued in the village.

The claims could not be independently verified.

Ukraine’s military, meanwhile, said it struck a fourth bridge spanning the Dnieper River.

British military intelligence said in its daily assessment on August 13 that the strike further crimped Russia’s ability to resupply forces on the river’s northwest, or right, bank.

General Valery Zaluzhniy, commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said he spoke by phone about Russian casualties in the war with U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Zaluzhniy reported on Facebook that one-fifth of the Russian units involved in the hostilities in Ukraine had been defeated.

“We note that the enemy is suffering significant losses, primarily in manpower,” Zaluzhniy said.

He also reported that active fighting continued along the 1,300 kilometers of the front line.

The mayor of Mykolayiv said his city was one of those shelled on August 13.

“Near 8 o’clock in the evening, Mykolayiv was shelled. In one of the districts, a rocket exploded near a residential building,” Mayor Oleksandr Sienkovych said. “Currently, we know about one wounded person,” he wrote on Telegram.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian military reported fierce battles took place on August 13 in the Avdiyivka direction, where Russian troops tried to break through Ukrainian defenses.

The General Staff also reported that in the Slovyansk direction Russian troops tried to break through Ukrainian defenses but were unsuccessful and withdrew.