Ukraine Live Briefing: Shelling near nuclear plant kills worker as world leaders call on Russia to retreat

US Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, leaves the courtroom after the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022.
US Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, leaves the courtroom after the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Shelling near a nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine continued through the weekend, threatening the security of Europe’s largest nuclear facility and alarming the leaders of countries around the world, who called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the hotly contested site. A volley of rockets struck the city surrounding the plant on Sunday, killing one of its foremen and injuring two other workers, Ukrainian officials said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Forty-two countries are calling on Russia to withdraw troops from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, according to a statement by the European Union dated Friday and posted Sunday. The statement says Russia’s military aggression at and near the plant poses a threat to nuclear safety.
  • The latest round of shelling near the plant killed one plant employee and injured two others, Ukraine’s nuclear power regulator said on Telegram. The city of Enerhodar was hit at least six times, the regulator said, further shaking the enclave where many nuclear power employees live.
  • Ukrainian forces will target Russian troops who shoot at the nuclear plant or from it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of additional shelling in the area. He said Russian soldiers are becoming a “special target,” and he repeated his call for sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry.
  • The cities of Nikopol and Marhanets faced additional attacks overnight into Sunday, according to the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, who reported property damage but no casualties. Zelensky said Saturday that Russian soldiers are hiding behind the nuclear plant to fire at the two cities, which lie across from Zaporizhzhia on the Dnieper River.
  • Three of six turbines at a hydropower plant were damaged by HIMARS missiles, Russian state TV said. The network, run by the Russian Defense Ministry, said the damage to the Kakhovka plant could affect the cooling of nuclear reactors at Zaporizhzhia. The reports could not be independently verified.

Battlefield updates

  • At least six explosions rocked Russia’s Saki air base in occupied Crimea over the course of about an hour during an attack last week, a Washington Post investigation confirmed. Anonymous Ukrainian officials have said the strike was carried out by the country’s special forces, which would make it one of Kyiv’s most audacious operations of the war.
  • Ukrainian guerrilla fighters destroyed a railway bridge near the occupied city of Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine, its exiled mayor, Ivan Fedorov, said Sunday. Ukrainian resistance fighters have been operating behind enemy lines in the area for months, and many continue to evade Russian detection, Fedorov said.
  • Ukrainian forces are continuing to disrupt Russian supply lines supporting Kremlin troops on the right bank of the Dnieper, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a D.C.-based think tank, said in its latest assessment. Kyiv’s troops struck a bridge on the Kakhovka plant’s dam again Saturday, rendering it unusable, according to Ukrainian military officials.
  • Several bridges are out of action in the area. If Russia can’t fix them, its forces on the west bank of the Dnieper “will likely lose the ability to defend themselves against even limited Ukrainian counterattacks,” the ISW said. British defense officials said Saturday that Russia is probably relying on two pontoon ferry crossing points to resupply several thousand troops in the area.
  • Zelensky said in his address late Saturday that “fierce fighting” continues in Donbas. ISW analysts say Russian forces may be refocusing their efforts in the northeast to draw Ukrainian forces away from counterattacks in the south. Particularly heavy fighting was reported in the Donetsk village of Pisky, which Russia claimed control of Saturday. But British defense analysts said the village, which is less than four miles west of the Donetsk airport, “probably remains contested.”

Global impact

  • Vulnerable NATO allies such as Latvia are scaling up their defenses out of fear that they could be Russia’s next target. About 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed across Europe, but for those on Russia’s doorstep, that’s not enough, The Post reports.
  • Norway has become the latest country to join an international coalition helping train Ukraine’s armed forces. The U.K.-based program “has already provided vital military skills to soldiers now serving on the front line,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
  • A U.N.-chartered vessel packed with 23,000 tons of Ukrainian grain set sail for Ethiopia on Sunday. The ship, which left a Black Sea port in the Odessa region, is one of more than a dozen that have left Ukrainian ports under a U.N.-backed deal to ease the global food crisis. It is the first one bound for an African country and is carrying grain purchased by the World Food Program, a U.N. agency seeking to assist nations most in need.

From our correspondents on the ground

War? Ordinary life? It depends where in Ukraine you live. In Kharkiv, 21-year-old bartender Vladyslav Nazarenko can’t shake the fear of a Russian rocket or missile attack.

Meanwhile, in Kyiv, Ukraine’s bustling capital, far from the front lines, 22-year-old Pashchenko Denys serves a constant stream of customers looking to laugh and relax. The Post’s Miriam Berger writes: “Nearly six months after Russia invaded, many Ukrainians are living — and struggling — with these split-screen realities.”

“Kyiv was on the brink of falling early in the war — Russian forces tried to encircle the capital and brutalized civilian populations along the way. But the capital emerged defiant and became home to thousands of displaced Ukrainians,” she adds.