42 countries demand Russia withdraws from nuclear site as battle
By Stefan J. Bos
The European Union and some 42 countries are demanding that Russia removes its military from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.
The statement came as the United Nations nuclear watchdog warned that ongoing attacks on the station risk a potential radiation leak. A nuclear disaster at the massive plant could impact much of Europe and beyond.
But there were no indications Monday that Moscow would withdraw and end its near six-month-old invasion of Ukraine. Instead, in a sign of further East-West tensions, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, reportedly announced that Russia and North Korea would expand bilateral relations.
Pyongyang's state media reported that Putin made the pledge in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who has spearheaded a nuclear weapons program.
Back in Ukraine, clashes continue along the southern frontline, where witnesses said Russian shelling resulted in casualties and infrastructure damage in four cities, Mykolaiv, Nikopol, Marhanets, and Enerhodar.
However, Kyiv claimed that Russian forces also suffered setbacks and evacuated to the southern Kherson region's left bank of the Dnipro River. Authorities said the Russian troops were forced to withdraw after Ukrainian strikes made a third key bridge in the area impassable.
Anti-tank missiles made in Ukraine have hit Russian armor in recent days. A Ukrainian commander compared the so-called Stuhna-P with U.S. Javelin missiles which reportedly cost three times more.
"First, we walk around looking for a position. Then we dig trenches there and wait for a target," said Denys, a Ukrainian soldier. He described how he witnessed the missiles attacking 10 tanks and a personnel carrier. None of them survived.
The Vatican and other concerned authorities hope the clashes will end and the war will not overshadow attempts to carry food to millions of hungry people from Ukraine, a key grain exporter.
Officials said a cargo ship carrying 23,000 metric tons of wheat was ready to sail from Ukraine to Ethiopia.
That is important, says the UN, as the "ripple effect" of the war in Ukraine threatens to worsen a food crisis sparked by conflict and drought in the East African country.