Russia reports power supply problem in Zaporizhzhia after bombing

By German Press Agency

MOSCOW — Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was once again the scene of fighting on Saturday, despite the presence of international inspectors.

Russian-backed authorities in the region said a key power line had been damaged in the shelling, the Interfax news agency reported. As a result, electricity to nearby areas was cut off.

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been controlled by Russian forces since early March but operated by Ukrainian personnel. The complex has faced a barrage of artillery fire, with Moscow and Kyiv responsible for strikes that risk a nuclear disaster.

A 14-member team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the complex on Thursday to inspect war damage. Six members remained behind. That number is to be reduced to two in the coming days, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

In recent weeks, as the fighting has intensified, there have been a series of reports of reactors out of service, problems with transmission lines and physical damage to the facilities themselves.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday accused the Ukrainian army of trying to take over the site. He claimed that 250 soldiers and “foreign mercenaries” were involved in the operation, which Russian forces successfully repelled.

None of the claims about the Moscow or Kyiv battlefield could be immediately verified. Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency Energoatom has not yet commented on possible electricity disruptions.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said late Friday that the “physical integrity of the building was breached” but critical security systems were working.

Moscow also provided an update on Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive to push Russian forces out of the country’s south, saying the effort was costing Ukrainians dearly.

Kyiv’s “regime” is continuing its failed attempts to retake the area between the cities of Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said.

Over the past day, the ministry said Ukraine lost 23 tanks and 27 combat vehicles, as well as more than 230 soldiers.

The Ukrainian army itself publishes little information on the progress of the counter-offensive it launched earlier this week.

Contrary to the Russian description, the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update that Ukraine’s offensive in the Kherson region is putting pressure on Moscow.

“One of the elements of this offensive is a continuous advance on a broad front west of the Dnipro River, focusing on three axes in the Russian-occupied Kherson Oblast,” the ministry reported.

While these operations may not have had an immediate objective in mind, they surprised Russia and exploited poor logistics, leadership and administration, analysts say.

“With fighting also continuing in the Donbass and Kharkiv sectors, a key decision for Russian commanders in the coming days will be where to commit any operational reserve forces they can generate,” the ministry continued.

The British Ministry of Defense publishes information collected by its secret services since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Moscow has accused London of carrying out a targeted disinformation campaign.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February. After encountering fierce Ukrainian resistance, Moscow announced in late March that it was scaling back its goal of taking control of the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, collectively known as Donbass.

Muscovite troops have taken power in Luhansk, but fierce fighting continues in the remaining areas of Donetsk where Ukraine holds power. Russia has also occupied parts of southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that the toll of children in Donetsk was particularly heavy.

At least 380 children across Ukraine have been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the office said.

At least 737 other children were injured during the same period. The prosecution stressed that the figures were preliminary and that it was difficult to collect data on areas occupied by Russia or on areas where fighting was currently taking place.

Donetsk province recorded the highest number of injured children with 388, followed by Kharkiv with 204. A total of 2,328 educational institutions were damaged, of which 289 were completely destroyed.

When it comes to troop casualties, the Russian and Ukrainian military seldom speak of casualties within their own ranks, preferring instead to give death figures on the other side that range into the tens of thousands.

Alan A. Seibert