Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that all talks with Russia will be called off if the country proceeded with referendums in occupied areas. A lot of the war is now concentrated in the industrial Donbas areas, with Russian troops occupying large portions of land.
Russian forces shelled a Ukrainian city close to Europe's biggest nuclear power plant Thursday, reinforcing warnings from the UN nuclear chief that the fighting around the site could lead to a disastrous accident. Dnipropetrovsk's regional governor said Russia fired 60 rockets at Nikopol, across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which has been under Russian supervision since Moscow's troops seized it early in the war.
Some 50 residential buildings were damaged in the city of 107,000, and residents were left without electricity. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had warned on Tuesday that the situation was becoming more perilous daily at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar. Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated at the plant, he said. What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.
He expressed concern about the way the plant is being operated and the danger posed by the fighting going on around it. He cited shelling at the beginning of the war when it was taken over and continuing instances of Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of attacks there.
Experts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said they believe Russia is shelling the area intentionally, putting Ukraine in a difficult position. Either Ukraine returns fire, risking international condemnation and a nuclear incident which Ukrainian forces are unlikely to do or Ukrainian forces allow Russian forces to continue firing on Ukrainian positions from an effective safe zone,' the think tank said.
The Russian capture of Zaporizhzhia renewed fears that the largest of Ukraine's four nuclear power plants could be damaged, setting off an emergency like the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the world's worst nuclear disaster, which happened about 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of the capital, Kyiv.