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Russia and Ukraine: Ukraine’s nuclear agency accuses Moscow of “blackmailing the whole world”

Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Enerhoatum, said the Russians were “blackmailing the whole world” with their threats to blow up the Zaporizhia power plant.

In a post on the Telegram app, the agency added that Major General Valery Vasiliev, commander of the Russian Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces – said, “There will be either Russian land or a burning desert.”

“We have mined all the important facilities at the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia,” Vasiliev said, according to the agency.

The United States called on Russia to stop all military operations around the nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of bombing the nuclear plant. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the West should push Kyiv to stop its “extremely dangerous” bombing, according to Reuters.

“We expect countries that have absolute influence on the Ukrainian leadership to use this influence in order to rule out the continuation of this bombing,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the agency.

The BBC has not been able to verify both sides’ allegations.

White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said the “fighting near the nuclear plant is dangerous” and that “full control” of nuclear facilities must be returned to Ukraine.

She added that the United States continues to monitor the situation at the facility and the radiation sensors “fortunately” have not shown any indications of an increase in radiation levels.

Jean-Pierre said the United States was aware of reports of mistreatment of personnel at the plant, and said: “We applaud the Ukrainian authorities and personnel (at the plant) for their commitment to nuclear safety and security under difficult circumstances.”

Ukraine says the nuclear power plant complex in Zaporizhia is currently safe.

But concerns remain high, with Ukraine saying the Russian attacks over the weekend damaged three radiation sensors and injured a worker. The reactor must be separated from the working system.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attacks.

The site has been under Russian occupation since the beginning of March, but it is still managed by Ukrainian technicians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a speech in the evening, once again accused Russia of launching “nuclear terrorism” and urged countries to impose more sanctions on Moscow.

A former senior officer in the British armed forces said he believed Russia would “formally annex” as much of Ukraine’s Donbass as it could on 9/11.

General Sir Richard Barrons, who served in Britain’s Joint Forces Command from 2013-2016, told BBC Worldwide that Ukraine would need “our will, our money, our industry and our stocks” to help it take back its country.

He added that if Ukraine succeeds, it could end up entering the areas “which Russia declared Russian territory”.

This would see Russia “resort to its small nuclear weapons”.

This would include the use of “ultra-small” nuclear weapons that are dangerous within a two-mile radius but “will not cause a nuclear holocaust through an uncontrolled escalation,” he said.

On the other hand, it was reported that the British Ministry of Defense was working to train Ukrainian civilians in order to prepare for combat in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to the ministry, military programs led by the United Kingdom are preparing Ukrainian soldiers to fight on the front lines

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, had hoped that international inspectors would be allowed access to the Zaporizhia station.

The situation prompted the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to warn of a “very real risk of nuclear catastrophe”.

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, located in southeastern Ukraine, is the largest of its kind in Europe. The Russians seized it in March, but kept its Ukrainian staff.

“Any attack on a nuclear plant is suicidal,” Guterres says.

Fighting in Donbass

Britain’s Ministry of Defense has said that Russia is “highly likely” to deploy antipersonnel mines along its defensive lines in Donbass, eastern Ukraine.

In its regular intelligence updates, the ministry says the mines are capable of “inflicting large-scale casualties” among Ukrainian military personnel and local civilians.

The ministry added in a tweet on Twitter that Russia in Donetsk and Kramatorsk “most likely tried to use BFM-1 and BFM-1S anti-personnel mines.”

She says these are commonly called “butterfly mines”, describing them as “highly controversial indiscriminate weapons.