A fire that broke out at one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants following heavy shelling by Russian forces was extinguished early Friday, as key Ukrainian cities come under attack from invading troops.
Here’s what you need to know today:
Nuclear plant blaze extinguished: A fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex initially sparked fears of a potential accident but the blaze has since been put out. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said the reactors at the plant are safe and no radioactive material was released.
However, the head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said it was “unprecedented” to run a nuclear plant while military operations raged nearby.
Accusations fly: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led a chorus of leaders who condemned the Kremlin for intentionally firing on the plant. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the clashes at the nuclear facility showed “the recklessness of this war,” while UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “it’s very difficult to believe that it wasn’t done deliberately.”
And Ukraine’s nuclear operator said the plant management was now “working at gunpoint.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defense denied those allegations. A spokesman said that its forces took control of the plant and territory adjacent to it on Monday but was attacked by a “a Ukrainian sabotage group” early Friday morning.
The Russian government has routinely and without evidence claimed the Ukrainian government is staging “provocations” to provoke a military response by Western governments.
Key cities under assault: Russia is laying siege to the key Ukrainian city of Mariupol. The southeastern city’s deputy mayor said it was “surrounded” by Russian forces and in desperate need of military and humanitarian aid.
In northeastern Ukraine, 34 civilians were killed by Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region within a 24 hour period, emergency services said Thursday. Kharkiv’s mayor said the Russian military is “intentionally trying to eliminate Ukrainian people” as it targets civilian spaces. Russian troops are also advancing toward Odessa, the strategically significant city on the southern coast.
Talks end with no breakthrough: A Ukrainian negotiator on Thursday said that a second round of talks with Russia didn’t deliver any results that Ukraine needed.
However, humanitarian corridors for civilians were agreed on by both sides. Zelensky said the world will see today if those corridors work.
Growing humanitarian crisis: The UN estimates that more than 10 million people may end up fleeing their homes in Ukraine, including 4 million who may cross the border into neighboring countries. More than 1 million have fled already. Want to help? You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here.