(Kyiv) Volodymyr Zelensky and Rafael Grossi met in Ukraine on Monday at a hydroelectric station in the Zaporizhia region, while the second, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected in the coming days at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Moscow.
“Without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from [the plant] and adjacent territories, any initiative to restore nuclear safety and security is doomed,” President Zelensky warned Grossi. , according to comments reported by the Ukrainian presidency.
“Your role in ensuring Ukraine’s energy security is extremely important today,” Volodymyr Zelensky recalled.
The two leaders went on Monday to the site of a hydroelectric power station in Dnieper responsible for supplying the Zaporijjia nuclear power station, occupied by the Russian army and regularly victim of power cuts.
The head of the IAEA is expected in the coming days at the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, for his second visit there since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022.
“I will continue my efforts to protect the nuclear plant during the ongoing conflict and lead our next regular rotation of experts to and from the site,” Grossi said on Sunday.
Monday, Messrs. Zelensky and Grossi “have been informed of the measures taken to protect the Dnieper hydroelectric power station in the event of further attacks” by the Russians, according to the Ukrainian presidency, which indicated in a press release that the infrastructure of the site was “significantly destroyed”.
“I had a rich exchange with Mr. Zelensky about protecting ‘the site’ and its employees,” Mr. Grossi wrote in a tweet, along with a photo of the two executives.
Earlier Monday, Mr. Zelensky had posted himself in the Zaporizhia region, “on the front line” on the southern front.
“Zaporizhya region. Front line positions. I’m honored to be here today, alongside our military,” he said on his Telegram account, accompanying his message with a video in which we see him presenting medals to soldiers.
“Thank you for protecting our state [and] all of us. Thank you for protecting our homes, our territorial integrity and life in Ukraine,” he told them, according to a statement from the Ukrainian presidency.
According to the Ukrainian presidency, Zelensky visited the command post of the operational group of troops for the Zaporizhia region on Monday, where a meeting was held with military officials from the region.
The Ukrainian president also went to the site of a Russian strike on an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhia, which left one dead and around 30 injured last Wednesday.
He also visited a military hospital where he interacted with war wounded and medical personnel, according to the presidency.
Last week, Volodymyr Zelensky had moved to the region of Kherson (South), partially occupied by Russia, after going near Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting in the East, and in the region of Kharkiv (North -East).
The administration of the city of Avdiivka announced Monday the evacuation of municipal employees from this locality located on the front in eastern Ukraine and regularly bombarded by Russian forces.
“Avdiivka looks more and more like a place taken from post-apocalyptic movies […] Therefore, a difficult decision was made to evacuate […] municipal workers who at least tried to maintain the cleanliness and vitality of the city,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of the local military administration, announced on social media.
He “strongly recommends” leaving the city, “because Russian rockets and projectiles spare nothing and no one,” he added.
Russian troops have been trying for months to take Avdiivka, which has been on the frontline since 2014 and the start of the war between Ukrainian forces and Kremlin-led separatists.
Although only 13 km from Donetsk, the Russian-controlled capital of the eponymous region, the city still had 30,000 inhabitants when the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Pounded by artillery and more recently by the air force, it has only some 2,300 inhabitants, including 1,960 registered who receive humanitarian aid, Mr. Barabash had recently told AFP.
Avdiivka is currently one of the two most difficult theaters of combat on the front, with that of the city of Bakhmout, located 60 km further north.
In June, the Russians cut off one of the two main access roads to the city and positioned themselves to the east and south. In recent months, they have advanced and taken villages to the south-west and north, as if to take Avdiivka in a pincer movement, failing to be able to take it frontally.
A Russian bombardment left at least two people dead and 29 injured in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, the regional governor announced on Monday.
“There are two dead and 29 injured in Sloviansk, administrative buildings and offices were damaged along with five buildings and seven houses,” Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Facebook, adding that Russian forces had “hit the center of the city around 10:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. EST) with two S-300 missiles”.
The governor added that another city in the Donetsk region, Druzhkivka, had been targeted by an attack. “Two S-300 missiles hit the Druzhkivka orphanage and almost completely destroyed it,” he said, adding that the strike had no casualties according to initial reports.
“Another day that started with the terrorism of the Russian Federation. The aggressor state has hit our city of Sloviansk,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media.
“The enemy must know: Ukraine will not forgive the torture inflicted on our people, will not forgive these deaths and injuries,” he added.
Russian forces have made capturing the Donetsk region their top military priority and announced last year that they had annexed it, although they do not control all of it.