Intense Fighting Reported in Ukraine 06/10 08:11
Ukraine's military reported intense fighting with Russian forces on
Saturday, while the country's nuclear energy agency said it put the last
operating reactor at Europe's largest nuclear power plant into a "cold
shutdown" for safety as Russia's war on Ukraine drags on through its 16th month.
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's military reported intense fighting with
Russian forces on Saturday, while the country's nuclear energy agency said it
put the last operating reactor at Europe's largest nuclear power plant into a
"cold shutdown" for safety as Russia's war on Ukraine drags on through its 16th
After Russian forces pummeled Ukraine with missiles and drones overnight
resulting in deaths and damage to a military airfield, Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau arrived in Kyiv Saturday for an previously unannounced visit,
his second trip to Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February last year. He
was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Ukraine's General Staff said Saturday that "heavy battles" were ongoing,
with 34 clashes over the previous day in the country's industrial east. It gave
no details but said Russian forces were "defending themselves" and launching
air and artillery strikes in Ukraine's southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia
A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his view that
Ukrainian troops have started a long-expected counteroffensive and were
suffering "significant" losses.
At the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe's largest, which is occupied
by Russian forces, five out of six reactors were already in a state of cold
shutdown, That's a process in which all control rods are inserted into the
reactor core to stop the nuclear fission reaction and generation of heat and
Energoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear agency, said in a statement late Friday
that there was "no direct threat" to the Zaporizhzhia plant due to the breach
of the Kakhovka dam further down the Dnieper River, which has forced thousands
of people to flee flooding and also sharply reduced water levels in a reservoir
used to help cool the facility.
Energoatom said it shut down the final reactor due to that, and also because
of shelling near the site that has damaged overhead lines connecting the plant
to Ukraine's energy system.
With all nuclear reactions stopped, temperatures and pressure inside
reactors gradually decline, reducing the required intensity of water cooling of
the radioactive fuel. This is a nuclear power plant's safest operating mode.
Energoatom employees are still working at the power plant, although it remains
controlled by the Russians.
The site's power units have not been operating since September last year.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is due to visit Ukraine in
the coming days.
Also on Saturday morning, Ukrainian authorities reported that at least four
civilians have died across the country as Russian forces launched Iranian-made
Shahed drones, missiles, and artillery and mortar strikes.
Ukraine's State Emergency Service reported that three people were killed and
more than two dozen wounded overnight in an attack targeting the Black Sea port
of Odesa. A spokesperson for Ukraine's southern operational command, Natalia
Humeniuk, said two children and a pregnant woman were among those wounded.
In Ukraine's northeast, a 29-year-old man was killed as more than 10 drones
targeted the Kharkiv region, its governor, Oleh Syniehubov, reported Saturday.
He added that at least three other civilians were wounded.
In the Poltava region further west, there was damage to a military airfield
struck overnight during a Russian drone and missile attack, local Gov. Dmytro
Lunin reported. Lunin said no one was hurt. As of Saturday morning, there was
no additional comment from the Ukrainian army or officials on the extent of the
The Ukrainian air force said that during the night, it had shot down 20 out
of 35 Shahed drones and two out of eight missiles "of various types" launched
by Russian forces.
The fighting and civilian casualties took renewed attention as authorities
in southern Ukraine said water levels have been declining in a vast area
beneath the ruptured dam.
Nearly one-third of protected natural areas in the Kherson region could be
obliterated by flooding following the breach of the Kakhovka dam, the Ukrainian
environment minister warned Saturday.
In a Facebook post, Ruslan Strilets said that the dam's collapse left one
national park completely submerged, drained rivers and lakes in other protected
areas, and could lead to groundwater rising in parts of the Dnieper delta
occupied by Moscow, creating the risk of further flooding.
In the city of Kherson, whose outskirts were among the flood-hit areas, the
average water level decreased by 31 centimeters (12 inches) during the night,
but remained over 4.5 meters (15 feet) higher than usual, regional Gov.
Oleksandr Prokudin reported Saturday.
Prokudin warned that meteorologists predicted heavy rainfall in the area
over the weekend, complicating rescue efforts.
The U.N.'s humanitarian aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said in an Associated
Press interview Friday that an "extraordinary" 700,000 people were in need of
In other developments:
On Saturday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he wants to continue
speaking with Putin -- whose order for Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been
criticized by many Western leaders -- and plans to do so again "soon." Scholz
has spoken several times by phone with Putin since the invasion.
The chancellor said the basis for a "fair peace" between Russia and Ukraine
is the withdrawal of Russian troops. "That's needs to be understood," he said.