Ukraine war: Land mines found at nuclear power plant, drones intercepted

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, is seen in the background of the Kakhovka Reservoir.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, is seen in the background of the Kakhovka Reservoir. Copyright AP Photo/Libkos, File
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine


Land mines found at nuclear power plant

The UN atomic watchdog says its monitors at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant reported seeing anti-personnel mines around the site as Ukraine's military pursues a counteroffensive against the Kremlin’s entrenched forces after 17 months of war.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said its team observed the mines in a restricted area that is off-limits to the plant's Ukrainian staff.

The agency did not directly attribute the placement of the mines to the Russians but said its experts were told “it is a military decision, and in an area controlled by military.”

“Having such explosives on the site is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency's director general, said in a statement late Monday.

However, any detonation of the mines, which were facing away from the plant and located between its internal and external perimeter barriers, “should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems,” the statement said.

Drone attack intercepted

Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday that air defences intercepted Iranian-made Shahed drones that Russia fired at Kyiv overnight, in what was the sixth drone attack on the capital this month. 

No casualties or damage were reported, according to Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv regional military administration head.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry said a Russian patrol ship destroyed two Ukrainian sea drones that attacked it in the Black Sea early on Tuesday. 

It said the crew of the Sergey Kotov patrol ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet wasn’t hurt in the attack 370 kilometres southwest of the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

Ukrainian officials, in turn, said that Russians used cluster munitions in an attack on Kostiantynivka, in the eastern Donetsk region, late on Monday.

Rockets hit a recreational pond, killing a 10-year-old boy and wounding four other children ranging in age from five to 12, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration.

Russian military draft extended

The Russian parliament’s lower house on Tuesday approved a bill extending the upper age limit for the compulsory military draft from 27 to 30, a move that appears to be part of efforts by the Kremlin to expand the military during the fighting in Ukraine.

All Russian men aged 18-27 are currently obliged to serve in the military for one year, although many avoid the draft by using deferments granted to students, people with chronic illnesses and others.

The bill, which was quickly approved by the lower house on Tuesday, still needs to be endorsed by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

It comes as the Russian army is facing a grinding Ukrainian counteroffensive in several parts of the more than 1,000-kilometre front. It's widely seen as part of the Russian authorities' measures to expand the ranks as fighting in Ukraine has dragged out into its 18th month.

The Russian authorities say the military doesn’t use draftees in the fighting in Ukraine, relying on volunteers and reservists who were mobilised for action.

Some Russian media have reported, however, that the military tries to encourage or coerce many draftees into signing contracts as volunteers.


Crackdown on TV station

The Russian prosecutor-general’s office on Tuesday declared independent TV channel Dozhd to be an undesirable organisation, continuing the country’s wide crackdown on news media and groups regarded as threats to Russia's security.

The designation outlaws Dozhd from operating in Russia and exposes its journalists, staff and donors to potential criminal charges.

Dozhd, which is often critical of the Kremlin, closed its operations in Russia soon after the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, moving first to Latvia and then to the Netherlands. The prosecutor-general's office said Dozhd had spread extremist material and discredited authorities.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File
A dump track unloads grain in a granary in the village of Zghurivka, UkraineAP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File

Plea to restore grain deal

The United Nations has warned that the world's most vulnerable will suffer if Russia refuses to resume an internationally brokered deal to allow grain to be shipped from Ukraine's Black Sea ports. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made an appeal for the restoration of the deal during a speech in Rome on Monday at the opening of a three-day food summit.

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