Ukraine says Russian soldiers who shoot at nuclear plant a'special target'

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Ukraine says Russian soldiers who shoot at nuclear plant a'special target'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe's largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from will become a special target for Ukrainian forces.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the creation of a demilitarised zone at the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine amid fears of a nuclear catastrophe over renewed shelling in the past days, for which Russia and Ukraine blame each other.

He stated that he believed Russia was using the plant, which it captured early in the war, but is still run by Ukrainians as nuclear blackmail.

Every Russian soldier who shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, our special services, our army, he said in an evening address on Saturday.

The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have been under intense bombardment from the Russian-held side.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of attacking the part of the nuclear power plant where the energy that powers the South of Ukraine is generated. The goal is to disconnect us from the plant and blame the Ukrainian army for this, Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

A foreman who worked at the plant was killed on Sunday by Russian shelling while walking his dog near his home in the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine's state-owned nuclear company Energoatom said.

Local Russian-installed official Vladimir Rogov wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces had shelled the city and were responsible for his death.

If fighting stops, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is looking to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster. Nuclear experts fear that fighting could damage the plant's waste fuel pools or reactors.

More ships carrying Ukrainian grain were left or prepared to do so as part of a late July deal aimed at easing a global food crisis.

An Ethiopian cargo, the first since Russia invaded Ukraine, was about to leave, according to sources. The first grain ship to leave Ukraine was nearing Syria, as a result of a UN deal.

The world needs the food of Ukraine. Marianne Ward, World Food Programme deputy country director, said that this is the beginning of normal operations for the hungry people of the world.

Kyiv has said for weeks it is planning a counter offensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighbouring Kherson provinces, the largest part of the territory Russia seized after its February 24 invasion and still in Russian hands.

Russia's priority over the past week has been to reorient units to strengthen its campaign in southern Ukraine, British military intelligence said.

Russian-backed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in the eastern region of Donbas continued attacks north of Donetsk city, the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

Ukraine's military command said early on Sunday that Russian soldiers had tried to attack Ukrainian positions close to Avdiivka, which has since become one of the outposts of Ukrainian forces near Donetsk.

Russia, in a daily briefing, said it had taken control of Udy, a village in the eastern Kharkiv region, which is under constant shelling by Russian forces.

Reuters couldn't verify the battlefield accounts.

Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a military operation to demilitarise and denazify its smaller neighbour. Russia warned that it might sever ties because of the war that has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to a low point.