Ukraine-Russia: Area around nuclear plant hit again despite international pleas

There are new claims of Russia shelling close to Ukraine’s main nuclear station – hours after the latest international pleas to spare the area around Zaporizhzhya from attacks.

Nikopol, on the the opposite bank of the Dnieper River and about six miles downstream from the plant, came under fire three times during the night from rockets and mortars.

The strikes hit houses, a children’s nursery, bus station and shops, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

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Mayor Oleksandr Saiuk said four people were hurt, including two who were taken to hospital.

Russia’s top counterintelligence agency has blamed Ukrainian spy services for organising the killing of the daughter of a leading Russian nationalist ideologue in a car bombing near Moscow
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Reports of sustained shelling around Europe’s largest nuclear power station further highlighted the dangers of a war that will hit the six-month mark on Wednesday.

After UN secretary general Antonio Guterres again urged caution during a visit to Ukraine last week, US President Joe Biden further discussed the issue with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain on Sunday.

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The four leaders stressed the need to avoid military operations in the region to prevent the possibility of a potentially devastating nuclear accident, and called for the UN’s atomic energy agency to be allowed to visit the facilities as soon as possible.

The war has spread fear and unease far beyond the frontlines – even as far as Moscow, where on Saturday night a car explosion killed the daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s brain”.

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On Monday, Russian authorities were looking for further clues who could be behind the incident.

Authorities said preliminary information indicated 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed by a bomb planted in the car she was driving.

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A former Russian opposition politician, Ilya Ponomarev, said an unknown Russian group, the National Republican Army, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The existence of the group could not be verified.

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Mr Ponomarev, who left Russia after voting against its annexation of Crimea in 2014, made the statement to Ukrainian TV.

Ukraine officials have denied involvement.

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Later on Monday, Russia’s top counterintelligence agency had blamed Ukrainian spy agencies for organising Ms Dugina’s killing.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency, said the killing was “prepared and perpetrated by the Ukrainian special services”.

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It said the killing was perpetrated by a Ukrainian citizen, who left Russia for Estonia afterwards.

The FSB said that the suspect, Natalya Vovk, rented an apartment in the building where Dugina lived, and shadowed her.

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Ms Vovk and her daughter were at a nationalist festival, which Alexander Dugin and his daughter attended just before the killing.

It comes as Mr Putin lauded Russia’s flag as a symbol of a country determined to defend its interests and remain loyal to traditional values.

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In a video address marking National Flag Day on Monday, the Russian president did not mention his country’s six-month-old military operation in Ukraine, but echoed some of the justifications cited for sending in troops.

“The desire to live according to one’s will, to choose one’s own path and follow it, has become part of the genetic code of our people,” he said.

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