As it happened

Ukraine, Russia trade blame over nuclear plant shelling

Issued on: 20/11/2022 – 11:23Modified: 20/11/2022 – 11:26

A Ukrainian soldier walks past a destroyed building at Kherson International Airport in the village of Chornobaivka, on the outskirts of Kherson, on November 19, 2022. © Ihor Tkachov, AFP

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Kyiv and Moscow on Sunday blamed each other for shelling on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that Russia controls in southern Ukraine. A key adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the West’s reported attempts to persuade Ukraine to negotiate with Russia ‘bizarre’,  given Ukrainian forces’ recent advances in the northeast and south of the country. Read our live blog for the latest developments. All times are in Paris time (GMT + 1).


This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, .

9:15pm: Ukraine says Russians pounding frontline positions with artillery

Russian forces are pounding Ukrainian positions with artillery fire and in the eastern region alone launched almost 400 strikes on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.

Russia withdrew its forces from the southern city of Kherson this month and moved some of them to reinforce positions in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, an industrial area known as the Donbas.

“The fiercest battles, as before, are in the Donetsk region. Although there were fewer attacks today due to worsening weather, the amount of Russian shelling unfortunately remains extremely high,” Zelenskiy said.

“In the Luhansk region, we are slowly moving forward while fighting. As of now, there have been almost 400 artillery attacks in the east since the start of the day,” he continued. Zelensky also said troops in the south were “consistently and very calculatedly destroying the potential of the occupiers” but gave no details.

Kyiv said on in the south, the second time in four days that Ukraine has claimed to have inflicted major casualties in a single incident.

5:32pm: Ukraine denies its forces executed Russian prisoners

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights on Sunday denied Kyiv’s forces killed Russian prisoners of war, arguing that Ukraine’s soldiers were defending themselves against Russians who feigned surrender.

Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said “excerpts of the video” showed that Russians “using a staged capture… committed a war crime by opening fire on the Ukrainian Armed Forces” and so the soldiers “cannot be considered prisoners of war”.

2:40pm: Ukraine, Russia swap blame over shelling of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Kyiv and Moscow on Sunday traded accusations of shelling on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that Russia controls in southern Ukraine. 

The UN atomic watchdog that has a team of experts at the plant — the biggest nuclear facility in Europe — said “powerful explosions” had occurred on Saturday and Sunday. 

Kyiv “does not stop its provocations aiming at creating the threat of a man-made catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”, the Russian army said in a statement on Sunday. 

Despite the shelling, radiation levels “remain normal”, the army added.

Ukrainian nuclear energy agency Energoatom said shortly after that Russia was behind the explosions.

“This morning on November 20, 2022, as a result of numerous Russian shelling, at least 12 hits were recorded on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Energoatom said.

Moscow and Kyiv have traded blame for months over shelling near the Russian-held facility, sparking fears of a nuclear disaster and spurring calls to de-militarise areas around atomic facilities in Ukraine.

12:27pm: IAEA condemns attacks on Ukraine nuclear power station

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (), on Sunday condemned an attack on the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, demanding that those behind the explosions cease immediately.

12:18pm: Russian nuclear official says Ukraine is shelling Zaporizhzhia plant, TASS reports

The Zaporizhzhia plant, which is under Russian control, has come under Ukrainian shelling but no radiation leaks have been detected, the Russian TASS news agency reported, citing an official from Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom.

Fifteen shells were fired at the plant’s facilities, TASS said on Sunday, citing Renat Karchaa, an adviser to Rosenergoatom’s CEO.

“They shelled not only yesterday, but also today, they are shelling right now,” said the official, adding that any artillery attack at the site posed a threat to nuclear safety.

Ukrainian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report of shelling.

12:02pm: Repair work on water pipes near Kherson hampered by curfew, need for replacement parts

Teams of workers are trying to repair pipes near Kherson that bring to the city of Mykolaiv, pipes that were damaged amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Their repair efforts – which include clearing mines in the area – must take place before a 5pm curfew, and Mykolaiv’s water company needs to buy expensive replacement valves. FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports.


10:07: Russia and Iran reach deal to manufacture drones, Washington Post reports

Russia has reached agreement with Iran to begin manufacturing hundreds of on Russian soil, The Washington Post reported, citing intelligence seen by US and other Western security agencies.

The Post said Russian and Iranian officials finalised the deal during a meeting in Iran in early November.

Russia and Iran are moving rapidly to transfer designs and key components that could allow production to begin within months, three officials familiar with the matter said, according to the newspaper.

9:38am: West’s attempts to persuade Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow are ‘bizarre’, top Zelensky adviser says

The West’s attempts to persuade to negotiate with Moscow, after a series of major military victories by Kyiv, are “bizarre” and amount to asking for its capitulation, a key adviser to the Ukrainian presidency told AFP.

“When you have the initiative on the battlefield, it’s slightly bizarre to receive proposals like: ‘You will not be able to do everything by military means anyway, you need to negotiate,” said Mykhaylo Podolyak.

This would mean that the country “that recovers its territories, must capitulate to the country that is losing”, he added, during an interview at his office in the presidency building in Kyiv.

US media recently reported that some senior officials were beginning to encourage Ukraine to consider talks, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has so far rejected without a prior withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory.

“Russia doesn’t want negotiations. Russia is conducting a communication campaign called ‘negotiations’,” the Ukrainian presidential adviser said.

“It will simply stall for time. In the meantime, it will train its mobilised forces, find additional weapons and fortify its positions,” he warned.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)


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