A fire that broke out at one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants following heavy shelling by Russian forces was extinguished early Friday as key Ukrainian towns came under attack from invading troops.
Here’s what you need to know today:
Nuclear power plant fire extinguished: A fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex initially raised fears of a potential accident, but the fire has since been extinguished. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also said that the plant’s reactors are safe and no radioactive material has been released.
However, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said it was “unprecedented” to operate a nuclear power plant while military operations were raging nearby.
The charges swirl: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led a chorus of leaders who condemned the Kremlin for intentionally firing on the factory. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the clashes at the nuclear facility showed “the recklessness of this war”, while British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “it is very hard to believe it wasn’t done on purpose.”
And the Ukrainian nuclear operator said the plant’s management was “now working at gunpoint”.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has denied these allegations. A spokesman said his forces took control of the factory and adjacent territory on Monday but were attacked by a “Ukrainian sabotage group” early Friday morning.
The Russian government has repeatedly and without evidence claimed that the Ukrainian government was organizing “provocations” to provoke a military response from Western governments.
Key cities under attack: Russia besieges the key Ukrainian city of Mariupol. The deputy mayor of the southeastern city said it was “encircled” by Russian forces and desperately needed military and humanitarian assistance.
In northeastern Ukraine, 34 civilians were killed by Russian attacks on Kharkov region within 24 hours, the emergency services announced on Thursday. The mayor of Kharkiv said the Russian army was “intentionally trying to eliminate the Ukrainian people” as it targeted civilian spaces. Russian troops are also advancing towards Odessa, the strategically important city on the southern coast.
Talks end without breakthrough: A Ukrainian negotiator said on Thursday that a second round of talks with Russia had not yielded the results Ukraine needed.
However, humanitarian corridors for civilians have been agreed by both sides. Zelensky said the world will see today if these corridors work.
Growing humanitarian crisis: The UN estimates that more than 10 million people could end up fleeing their homes in Ukraine, of which 4 million could cross the border into neighboring countries. More than a million have already fled. Want to help? You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here.