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Russia detains 50 Ukrainian 'nationalists' in effort to crush underground resistance

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 15/08/2022 Jamie Johnson, Marcus Parekh, Grace Millimaci, Berny Torre
Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, in 2019 - Alexander Zemlianichenko/via Reuters © Alexander Zemlianichenko/via Reuters Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, in 2019 - Alexander Zemlianichenko/via Reuters

Russia’s National Guard says it has detained 50 suspected Ukrainian nationalists in the occupied south in a clear attempt to showcase to the Kremlin their efforts to stamp out underground resistance.

The National Guard, which typically dealt with protest rallies at home before the war, said in a statement on Monday that the unidentified 50 people were detained in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and some of them had weapons caches with two dozen grenade launchers, 12 portable surface-to-surface missile systems, rifles and ammunition.

Authorities did not say if the arrested people were facing any charges but merely said they were “suspected members of Ukrainian nationalist groups”.

The report comes the day after Ukrainian authorities claimed that the occupation administration moved its key members out of Kherson to Melitopol, deeper behind front lines, allegedly fearing Russian attacks. Separately, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, sacked three regional chiefs of the security agency SBU.

Two spy chiefs in western Ukraine and the SBU head in Kyiv were dismissed a month after Mr Zelensky fired the head of the SBU over suspected security lapses including the failure to weed out Russian collaborateurs in the ranks in southern Ukraine.

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06:01 PM

Evening Summary

It has just gone 8pm in Kyiv. and this is the summary of events today.

  • Ukraine claims to have struck a base used by the Wagner Russian paramilitary group as well as a bridge near the occupied city of Melitopol.

  • Three civilians have been killed and two wounded by an explosive device while swimming in the Black Sea in the Ukrainian southern region of Odesa, local police have said.

  • Russia's national space agency Roskosmos presented a model of the planned space station, dubbed "ROSS" by Russian state media, today at "Army-2022", a military-industrial exhibition outside Moscow.

  •  Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, amid talks between the US and Russia that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow valued its ties with countries in Latin American, Asia and Africa and was ready to offer modern weapons to its allies.

05:57 PM

UN can facilitate IAEA visit to power plant if Russia and Ukraine agree 

The United Nations has the logistics and security capacity to support a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant if both Russia and Ukraine agree, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

05:41 PM

Bayer will continue supplying Russia with agricultural inputs 

Germany's Bayer said it has decided to continue supplying Russia with essential agricultural inputs, reversing course from comments made in March that supplies for 2023 would be contingent on Russia stopping its attacks on Ukraine. 

05:15 PM

Telegraph's Ukraine Podcast

If you missed it earlier, you can catch up on today's Telegraph podcast here:

05:04 PM

Germany questions Russian tourist ban

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said while there was room for a European-level debate on banning Russian tourists, it was important not to make life harder for Kremlin opponents to flee Russia.

"What is important for us is that we understand there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime," he said following a meeting with leaders of the Nordic countries in Oslo on Monday.

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) with Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (R) - NTB / Reuters © NTB / Reuters Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) with Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (R) - NTB / Reuters

"All the decisions we take should not make it more complicated to leave the country, for getting away from the leadership and the dictatorship in Russia," he added.

Several European countries, including Finland's Sanna Marin who was also at the meeting, have called for Russian tourists to be banned from the EU to ensure that they too pay a penalty for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

04:38 PM

Ukraine hits Russian helicopter

In a tweet from the Ukrainian ministry of  defence, it appears that a Russian helicopter has been taken out.

04:15 PM

Ukraine claims strike on Russian paramilitary base 

Ukraine claims to have struck a base used by a Russian paramilitary group as well as a bridge near the occupied city of Melitopol.

Sergiy Gaiday, governor of the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine, said the base of the Wagner group was "destroyed by a precision strike".

Photos posted on social media after the strike - @factsofwar © @factsofwar Photos posted on social media after the strike - @factsofwar

Officials did not comment on rumours that Yegveny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner group known as "Putin's chef", had been killed.

Ukraine used US-supplied Himars to destroy the military headquarters after a Russian state TV reporter seemed to have given away its location by posting photos online.

Read more about the strike here.

03:56 PM

Norway hits export record amid soaring gas prices 

 Norway's exports reached a record in July, driven mainly by higher natural gas prices.

The Scandinavian country's statistics agency on Monday said Norwegian exports reached 229 billion kroner (£19.5 billion) last month, 0.4 per cent higher than the previous record set in March this year.

Norway's trade surplus of 153.2 billion kroner (£13 billion) also was the highest on record.

Norway, a major producer of offshore oil and gas, has seen energy exports surge as European countries scramble to find alternatives to Russian energy in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

03:37 PM

US shows support for Poland on army holiday

The Polish president and other officials marked their nation's Armed Forces Day holiday today alongside the US army commander in Europe and regular American troops, in a symbolic show of support for NATO members on the eastern front as Russia wages war nearby in Ukraine.

General Darryl Williams, the new commanding general of United States Army Europe and Africa, attended the ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in downtown Warsaw and said the US presence was meant to deliver a message of "strength and resilience"

General Darryl Williams, the new commanding general of United States Army Europe and Africa, second right, greets with US soldier during a picnic marking the Polish Army Day in Warsaw - AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk © AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk General Darryl Williams, the new commanding general of United States Army Europe and Africa, second right, greets with US soldier during a picnic marking the Polish Army Day in Warsaw - AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk

"It is about deterrence, about being strong, NATO is strong, the Polish people are strong, and we are standing shoulder to should with them," he said.

The holiday commemorates Poland's victory in 1920 over Soviet Russia in the Battle of Warsaw, which stopped the Bolshevik army's westward advance.

03:17 PM

Three killed by explosive device in sea off Odesa

Three civilians have been killed and two wounded by an explosive device while swimming in the Black Sea in the Ukrainian southern region of Odesa, local police have said.

The accident happened on Sunday when several people working on a construction site ignored barriers and warning signs on the beach and went swimming in the sea in the Belhorod-Dnistrovskyi district.

"In the water, as a result of an explosion of an unknown object, three men aged 25, 32 and 53 years old were killed," the police said in a written statement.

Sign warning people of mines danger is placed at a closed off beach in Odesa  - REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko © REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko Sign warning people of mines danger is placed at a closed off beach in Odesa  - REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

It added that another man and a woman had been wounded.

This summer Ukrainian authorities closed sea beaches because of mines or artillery shells because of the war with Russia and shelling by Russian forces.

Ukraine's military also planted mines along the coast in case of a Russian amphibious assault after Moscow's February 24 invasion, cordoning off beach entrances with red and white tape to ensure civilians don't get hurt.

03:02 PM

Russia unveils model of new space station 

Russia's space agency has unveiled for the first time a physical model of what a planned new Russian-built space station will look like, suggesting Moscow is serious about abandoning the International Space Station (ISS) and going it alone.

Russia's national space agency Roskosmos presented a model of the planned space station, dubbed "ROSS" by Russian state media, today at "Army-2022", a military-industrial exhibition outside Moscow.

Yuri Borisov, whom President Vladimir Putin appointed last month to head Roskosmos, has said Russia will quit the ISS after 2024 and is working to develop its own orbital station.

A model of a new Russian orbital space station -  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov © REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov A model of a new Russian orbital space station -  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Launched in 1998, the ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2000 under a U.S.-Russian-led partnership that also includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

NASA, which is keen to keep the ISS operating until 2030, says it has not yet received official confirmation of Russia's planned withdrawal and had previously understood that Moscow would continue to participate until 2028.

02:39 PM

Afternoon Summary

Here are the key events from Ukraine today:

  • Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.
  •  Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, amid talks between the US and Russia that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow valued its ties with countries in Latin American, Asia and Africa and was ready to offer modern weapons to its allies.

  • Captured Ukrainian fighters face being paraded in public prison cages on stage at Mariupol’s grand Philharmonic hall during an anticipated "show trial" of the prisoners of war

02:18 PM

Russia will facilitate IAEA mission to Ukrainian nuclear plant

Russia will do "everything necessary" to allow specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement today.

"In close cooperation with the Agency and its leadership, we will do everything necessary for the IAEA specialists to be at the station and give a truthful assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side," Ms Zakharova said.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, was captured by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. The plant has come under shelling in recent days, with both Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of risking a nuclear accident. 

02:10 PM

Russian shells kill 3 people in eastern Ukraine

At least three Ukrainian civilians have been killed and nearly 20 others wounded in the latest artillery barrages from the Russian military, Ukrainian officials have said.

The eastern region of Donetsk, one of the two provinces making up the country's industrial heartland of Donbas that has been the focus of a Russian offensive, has faced the most intense shelling.

People clean up at the damaged sites after Russian missiles hit residential areas in Sloviansk - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images People clean up at the damaged sites after Russian missiles hit residential areas in Sloviansk - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Regional officials said at least three people died and another 13 were wounded by Russian shelling that hit numerous towns and villages in the Donetsk region during the last 24 hours. The barrage has damaged dozens of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.

In the country's second-largest city of Kharkiv, five civilians were wounded in the latest Russian shelling early Monday, according to the city's mayor, Ihor Terekhov.

01:52 PM

Police in Moldova investigate string of bomb threats 

Police in Moldova's capital Chisinau are investigating a string of bomb threats at locations including at the country's supreme court and its international airport, authorities said.

Police said that the nine bomb threats also targeted shopping centres, hospitals and medical facilities.

Monday's threats follow more than 40 similar incidents that plagued the small non-European Union nation in July, more than half of them targeting Chisinau airport and causing severe service disruptions.

Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita - Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool via REUTERS © Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool via REUTERS Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita - Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool via REUTERS

None of the scores of recent threats in Moldova, which shares a border with war-torn Ukraine, have turned out to be true. No explosives have been discovered and no one has yet been charged. Airport security, however, has been bolstered.

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita said in a recent interview with Radio Moldova that some of the threats had been traced to I.P. addresses in Russia and Belarus but that they could have been manipulated.

01:35 PM

Putin: Russia is ready to arm its allies

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow values its ties with countries in Latin American, Asia and Africa and that it is ready to offer modern weapons to its allies.

"(We) are ready to offer our allies the most modern types of weapons, from small arms to armored vehicles and artillery to combat aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles," Putin said at the opening ceremony of the "Army-2022" forum near Moscow.

01:22 PM

The Telegraph is live on Twitter

Listen live to The Telegraph's Spaces discussion on Ukraine.

Dominic Nicholls, Gareth Corfield and David Knowles are talking about Putin leaving 10,000 soldiers stranded and how to understand the cyber war.

01:19 PM

Ukraine and Niger hold talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has held talks with his Nigerien counterpart Mohamed Bazoum about food security.

12:53 PM

Russia building prison 'cages' to parade captured Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol show trial

Captured Ukrainian fighters face being paraded in public prison cages on stage at Mariupol’s grand Philharmonic hall during an anticipated "show trial" of the prisoners of war, reports our Brussels correspondent Joe Barnes.

The trial of the Azov prisoners could happen as soon as August 24, Ukraine’s independence day, to give the Russians an appearance of a victory following months of failures in the eastern Donbas region.

The makeshift holding cages and planned open trial heighten the risk of public executions, which Russian forces are said to be planning to shatter Ukrainian morale.

You can read Joe's report in full here.

12:36 PM

Russia leaves 20,000 soldiers stranded in tactical withdrawal to the east

Russia has begun withdrawing troops across a key river to escape a Ukrainian counter offensive, Ukrainian officials claimed yesterday.

Vitaly Kim, the governor of Mykolayiv district, said the entire Russian command staff was retreating from the west bank of the Dnipro river that flows through the occupied city of Kherson in the south east.

If confirmed, that would leave an estimated 20,000 or more Russian soldiers isolated from their commanders and cut off from supply lines by the half-mile-wide river, over which the main bridges in the Kherson region have been damaged by Ukrainian attacks.

You can read the full report from Campbell MacDiarmid, who is in Odesa, in full here.

12:11 PM

Dutch court to announce ruling in MH17 murder trial on Nov 17

The Dutch court handling the murder trial of four suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 has said it will hand down its verdict on Nov. 17.

Prosecutors say the one Ukrainian and three Russian defendants, who are all at large, helped supply a missile system that Russian-backed separatists used to fire a rocket at the plane on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board were killed.

The prosecution is seeking life terms for all suspects.

11:43 AM

Ukrainian servicemen fire against Russian troops in Kharkiv

Replay Video

11:18 AM

German families to pay £406 annual gas price levy 

The average German family of four will pay around £406 (€480) extra a year under an incoming gas price levy.

The charge is meant to distribute the high costs of replacing Russian gas among all end-consumers from October to next April.

It was planned by the German cabinet and has been set at 2.419 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), according to Trading Hub Europe.

The move is a bid to help Uniper and other importers cope with soaring prices due to reduced Russian supply.

11:07 AM

MoD shares its latest map of the Ukraine war

10:46 AM

Ukrainian soldiers continue to travel to UK for training

10:24 AM

American volunteer in Ukraine shows danger of de-mining farms

Replay Video

10:04 AM

Brittney Griner appeals drug sentence

The defence team of Brittney Griner, the US basketball star jailed for nine years in Russia on drugs charges, has appealed against her conviction for narcotics possession and trafficking, her lawyer Maria Blagovolina has told Reuters.

Ms Griner, who had played for a Russian club, was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 after cannabis-infused vape cartridges were found in her luggage.

She pleaded guilty to the charges but said she had made an "honest mistake" by entering Russia with cannabis oil, which is illegal in the country. She was convicted on August 4.

The U.S. government says Ms Griner was wrongfully detained. It has offered to exchange her for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. 

Russia-Ukraine war: North Korea and Russia to expand 'bilateral relations', Putin tells Kim - KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV /AFP © KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV /AFP Russia-Ukraine war: North Korea and Russia to expand 'bilateral relations', Putin tells Kim - KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV /AFP

09:41 AM

Ukrainian forces track and destroy lone Russian tank

Replay Video

09:23 AM

Russian gas flows to Europe stable

Russian gas flows to Europe via some major pipeline routes were steady on Monday morning, operator data showed.

Physical flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany were at 14,554,412 kilowatt hours per hour (kWh/h) at 9am (CET), similar to the previous 24 hours.

Russia cut flows on the pipeline to only 20 per cent of capacity on July 27, citing maintenance work.

Eastbound gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland from Germany were also stable, data from operator Gascade showed.

09:02 AM

Ukraine today, in pictures

Russia-Ukraine war: North Korea and Russia to expand 'bilateral relations', Putin tells Kim - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Russia-Ukraine war: North Korea and Russia to expand 'bilateral relations', Putin tells Kim - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
© OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

08:46 AM

Inside the 'f---ing drone team' the Russians are desperate to capture

Yevhen Pronin will be at the European Championships to watch his nation’s athletes – before returning to battle on the front line. Ben Bloom brings us this extraordinary report.

Yevhen Pronin, the acting president of the Ukraine Athletics Federation, presses play on a video on his phone. “There are two Russian soldiers here,” he says, matter of fact. “So I drop the bomb here, like a basketball, as you see. The machine moves here and crushes them, so they died.”

Pronin, 31, is the youngest athletics federation president in the world. He is also a successful lawyer and, for the past few months, a soldier on the Ukrainian army’s front line fighting the Russian invasion.

This week, he will travel to Munich to watch his nation’s athletes – many of whom have fled their homes to escape the war – compete in the European Championships. Then, he will return to fight.

You can read Ben's report in full here.

08:26 AM

Russia's retreat from southern Ukraine

08:08 AM

Moscow's Kherson troops nearly cut off after Ukrainian strikes damage road and rail bridges

Ukrainian artillery almost cut off Russia’s forces in the occupied city of Kherson after badly damaging three key bridges across the River Dnipro, reports James Kilner.

Kyiv's forces have been pummelling a number of rail and road crossings over the waterway, and a local Ukrainian official reported on Saturday that they had damaged the last working bridge.

Western intelligence said Russia was now only able to resupply its forces in the southern region using two pontoon ferry crossings, a time-consuming and hazardous process, giving Ukraine’s military a vital edge ahead of its promised offensive to retake the region.

You can read James' report in full here.

07:39 AM

Philippines in talks to buy US helicopters after dropping Russia deal

The Philippines is looking to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States, after scrapping a deal with Russia worth 12.7 billion pesos (£188 million) in order to avoid sanctions, Manila's ambassador to Washington has said.

In June, days before President Rodrigo Duterte ended his six-year term, the Philippines scrapped a deal to buy 16 Mi-17 Russian military transport helicopters because of fears of US sanctions linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"This cancellation of this contract is precipitated mainly by the war in Ukraine. While there are sanctions expected to come our way, from the United States and western countries, obviously it is not in our interest to continue and pursue this contract," ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told journalists in a virtual forum.

Mr Romualdez said the Chinooks would replace existing hardware used for the movement of troops and in disaster preparedness in the Southeast Asian country.

The United States is willing to strike a deal for the amount the Philippines was set to spend on the Russian helicopters, Mr Romualdez said, adding the deal with Washington will likely include maintenance, service and parts.

The Philippines is pursuing discussions with Russia to recover its $38 million (£31.4 million) down payment for the helicopters, the delivery of which was supposed to start in November next year, or 24 months after the contract was signed.

07:16 AM

Latest MoD update

06:28 AM

NZ to send troops to UK to train Ukrainian military

New Zealand is sending 120 military personnel to the UK to help train Ukrainians in front-line combat, the Government said on Monday.

The deployment will enable two infantry training teams to equip Ukrainian personnel with the core skills to be effective in combat, including weapon handling, combat first aid, operational law and other skills.

The training of about 800 Ukrainian soldiers would be conducted exclusively at one of four locations in the UK, and New Zealand defence personnel would not travel to Ukraine, the Government said.

"We have been clear that a blatant attack on a country's sovereignty and the subsequent loss of innocent lives is wrong and intolerable. Our condemnation will continue to extend beyond words and include critical support," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

06:25 AM

Philippines avoids sanctions over Russian helicopter deal

The Philippines is looking to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States, after scrapping a deal with Russia worth 12.7 billion pesos (£187m) in order to avoid sanctions, Manila's ambassador to Washington said on Monday.

In June, days before President Rodrigo Duterte ended his six-year term, the Philippines scrapped a deal to buy 16 Mi-17 Russian military transport helicopters because of fears of US sanctions linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The US was willing to strike a deal for the amount the Philippines was set to spend on the Russian helicopters, ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said, adding the deal with Washington would likely include maintenance, service and parts.

The Philippines is pursuing discussions with Russia to recover its £31m down payment for the helicopters, the delivery of which was supposed to start in November next year, or 24 months after the contract was signed.

04:58 AM

In pictures...

An elderly woman sells flowers in an underground passage in Kyiv - DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP

An elderly woman sells flowers in an underground passage in Kyiv - DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP
© DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP

04:11 AM

Russia leaves 20,000 soldiers stranded

Russia has started withdrawing troops across a key river to escape a Ukrainian counter offensive, Ukrainian officials have claimed.

Vitaly Kim, the governor of Mykolayiv district, said the entire Russian command staff was retreating from the west bank of the Dnipro river that flows through the occupied city of Kherson in the south east.

If confirmed, that would leave an estimated 20,000 or more Russian soldiers isolated from their commanders and cut off from supply lines by the half-mile-wide river, over which the main bridges in the Kherson region have been damaged by Ukrainian attacks.

READ MORE: Russia leaves 20,000 soldiers stranded in tactical withdrawal to the west

03:30 AM

Heavy shelling in Donetsk

Locals visit buildings destroyed in a rocket attack in the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region  - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP © ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP Locals visit buildings destroyed in a rocket attack in the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region  - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

Ukrainian forces have reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk that has become a key focus of the near six-month war, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.

The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front – particularly the Kherson region, mainly controlled by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.

Ukrainian soldiers fire towards Russian troops from a tank at in the Donetsk region - REUTERS/Stringer © Provided by The Telegraph Ukrainian soldiers fire towards Russian troops from a tank at in the Donetsk region - REUTERS/Stringer

02:04 AM

Russians detain their own former spy chief

A former Russian spy who led rebels in Ukraine's Donetsk region in 2014 has been detained after attempting to join the front line of the Kremlin’s war.

Igor Girkin, also called Igor Strelkov, decided to sign up after growing frustrated with the slow progress of the conflict.

Photos on social media show a clean-shaved Girkin without his trademark moustache in an apparent attempt to travel in disguise to the battle near Kherson in southern Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

01:56 AM

Nuclear disaster risk 'increasing every day'

A Ukrainian mother and child ride a bike past a car destroyed by Russian shelling in Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency © Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency A Ukrainian mother and child ride a bike past a car destroyed by Russian shelling in Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency

The risk of disaster at Europe's largest nuclear plant is "increasing every day", the mayor of the city where it is located told AFP on Sunday, after Ukraine and Russia exchanged blame for fresh shelling around the facility.

The Zaporizhzhia plant in south-eastern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian forces since March, and Kyiv has accused Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers and storing arms there.

The facility has come under fire repeatedly in the past week, raising the spectre of a nuclear catastrophe.

"What is happening there is outright nuclear terrorism, and it can end unpredictably at any moment," said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Energodar city where the plant is based.

"The risks are increasing every day," he said from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia.

He said there was mortar shelling on the plant "every day and night":  "The situation is hazardous, and what causes the most concern is that there is no de-escalation process."

01:44 AM

North Korea and Russia to expand 'bilateral relations'

Kim Jong-un predicted cooperation between Russia and North Korea would grow based on an agreement signed in 2019 when he met with Vladimir Putin.

North Korea in July recognised two Russian-backed breakaway "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine as independent states, and officials raised the prospect of North Korean workers being sent to the areas to help in construction and other labour.

Ukraine, which is resisting a Russian invasion described by Moscow as a "special military operation", immediately severed relations with Pyongyang over the move. 

Pyongyang's state media reported on Monday that Putin told Kim that their two countries would "expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts".

In a letter to the North Korean leader for Korea's liberation day, the Russian President said closer ties would be in both countries' interests, and would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region, North Korea's KCNA news agency said.

Kim also sent a letter to Putin saying the Russian-North Korean friendship had been forged in the Second World War with victory over Japan, which had occupied the Korean peninsula.

The "strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity" between the two countries had since reached a new level in their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from hostile military forces, Kim said in the letter. 

KCNA did not identify the hostile forces, but it has typically used that term to refer to the United States and its allies.

01:16 AM

Today's top stories

  • Russia has begun withdrawing troops across a key river to escape a Ukrainian counter offensive, Ukrainian officials have claimed. If confirmed, that would leave an estimated 20,000 or more Russian soldiers isolated from their commanders and cut off from supply lines by the half-mile-wide river
  • A former Russian spy who led rebels in Ukraine's Donetsk region in 2014 has been detained after attempting to join the front line of the Kremlin’s war
  • Without gas storage, Britain finds itself dangerously vulnerable to Vladimir Putin’s machinations. It is a predicament rooted in a decade of complacency by politicians of all parties who are now engaged in a war of blame
  • Firms transformed to produce war supplies and a self-employment boom are driving a rapid recovery in business creation in Ukraine after a collapse in the early stages of Russia’s invasion
  • The automated Phalanx CIWS cannons aboard Britain's aircraft carriers are a final line of defence against attack, capable of filling the sky with 4,500 armour-piercing rounds a minute to defeat incoming missiles. Find a way to dodge them, and the HMS Queen Elizabeth is little more than a floating 65,000-tonne target. It would be no surprise, then, if military chiefs are feeling a little nervous about the latest wonder weapon

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