Ukraine war latest: Ukraine 'preparing for nuclear explosion' at power plant; Russia cancels major event over 'security concerns' (2023)

Key points
  • First overnight attack on Kyiv in nearly two weeks
  • Major Russian air show cancelled over 'security concerns'
  • Ukraine 'preparing for nuclear explosion' at power plant
  • Wagner Group logo removed from centre in St Petersburg
  • Sean Bell:Putin can't afford to lose Wagner fighters
  • Zelenskyy: 'Serious threat' remains at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
  • Your questions answered:Is there a chance Wagner fighters could stage a coup in Belarus?
  • Live reporting by Katie Williams


Biden to visit UK as part of Europe trip to boost NATO against Russia

Joe Biden is set to travel to Europe at the end of the week for a three-country trip aimed at bolstering NATO against Russia as the war in Ukraine continues.

The US president's travels will begin in London next weekend, where he is set to meet with the King and Rishi Sunak, the prime minister.

The White House said the meetings will "further strengthen the close relationship between our nations".

Mr Biden's main focus will be the annual NATO summit, being held this year in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the war in Ukraine and the country's proposed NATO membership is expected to dominate.

He will also stop in Helsinki, Finland, to commemorate the country's accession into the alliance earlier this year.


Russian ex-arms dealer exchanged for US basketballer is running for far-right party

A convicted Russian arms dealer who was exchanged for US basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap has been chosen as a far-right party candidate for a regional seat in Russia, a Russian news agency is reporting.

Viktor Bout, known as "the merchant of death", spent 14 years in a US prison for illegal arms dealing before being released in the exchange with Griner, an Olympic gold medallist, in December.

He publicly signed up to far-right pro-Kremlin political party Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) shortly after his release.

Russian news agency RIA is now reporting that Mr Bout has been nominated as a candidate for the legislative assembly of the Ulyanovsk region in central Russia, citing a party official.

The LDPR holds ultra-nationalist views andhas consistently backed Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.


'Explosion' near Russian military airfield - reports

A "powerful explosion" has been reported near a military airfield in southern Russia, according to claims in Russian media.

The Telegram channel Mash said the alleged explosion occurred in the port town of Primorsko-Akhtarsk, in Russia's Krasnodar region.

It claimed Russian air defences shot down a missile headed for the area.

According to the head of the Krasnodar region, there were no injuries or damage caused.

Ukrainian adviser Anton Gerashchenko has posted a video purporting to show the aftermath of the explosion on Twitter:


Tractor driver injured after 'going over mine'

A tractor driver was injured by Russian explosives while carrying out field work in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, an official has said.

Kherson governor Yaroslav Yanushevych reported on Telegram that the 48-year-old man was "blown up" and suffered a contusion, as well as injuries to his face, chest and hands, when the mine was detonated in the village of Posad-Pokrovske.

He said doctors arrived quickly but the man refused hospitalisation.

"We remind you once again about the high level of mine danger in the Kherson region,"Mr Yanushevych said.

"It is still too early to visit areas where [mine sweepers] were not working."


Zelenskyy visits port city to mark Ukraine's Navy Day

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has paid a visit to the Black Sea port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine today as his country marks Navy Day.

Held on the first Sunday of every July, the holiday honours those who defend their country on the water as well as on land.

Today, Mr Zelenskyy has been hearing a report from Ukraine's navy commander, discussed prospects for the development of a naval drone and missile programme and presented awards to service members.

The Ukrainian president thanked the "warriors" of the Ukrainian Navy in a video posted to Twitter, as he said "Russian ships are already afraid of approaching our Black Sea coast".


Poland to amp up security on Belarus border

Poland is sending 500 police officers to its border with Belarus due to the "tense situation" there, Polish interior minister Mariusz Kaminski said.

According to the Polish Border Guard, 187 people tried to cross into Poland from Belarus illegally yesterday.

"Due to the tense situation on the border with Belarus I have decided to bolster our forces with 500 Polish police officers from preventive and counterterrorism units," Mr Kaminski wrote on Twitter.

"They will join 5,000 border guards and 2,000 soldiers guarding the security of this border."


Residential building damaged after Kherson shelling

We reported earlier that several people were injured in Russian shelling of Kherson in southern Ukraine (see our 12.35pm post).

In an update on the situation, the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said on Telegram that at least four residents were injured.

Two were hurt in a "targeted strike" on a high-rise building, while civil infrastructure was also damaged by debris, it said.

"Currently, prosecutors together with police investigators are conducting the necessary investigative actions," the unit said.


Ukrainian troops making progress around Bakhmut - military official

Ukrainian forces are continuing to make progress around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, according to national media.

The Kyiv Independent reports that military spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi told national television that soldiers are "pressuring" Moscow's troops and liberating territory around the devastated city captured by Russian forces last month.

But he didn't say how far Kyiv's military had advanced, saying that more information would come after analysis on the ground.

The Institute for the Study of War said Russia is likely responding to Ukrainian operations around Bakhmut by concentrating its elite forces there to "preserve the perceived informational victory" from the city's capture.

Moscow has already reinforced Russian positions in Bakhmut where Ukraine is said to be advancing "slowly but surely".


Ukrainian rebuilds home with war debris

Igor Knyazev's home in Kharkiv was reduced to rubble when it found itself on the frontline of Russia's war with Ukraine.

Now, he is trying to rebuild it using crates from "Grad" rockets and other left-behind parts.

Mr Knyazev is from Dovhenke, a town on the border of the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.

It was a frontline town between March and September last year before Kharkiv was de-occupied. All buildings were reduced to rubble during the six months of fighting.


What can Ukraine do to minimise the risk of an incident at its nuclear plant?

Concern about a potential nuclear disaster at the Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine continues.

Experts have repeatedly said the plant, seized by Russia last March, is at risk from shelling near and around it.

But is there anything Ukraine can do to minimise the risk of a nuclear incident at the facility?

Military analyst Sean Bell says that although the prospect of fighting at the boundaries of a nuclear plant is a "major concern", the main nuclear reactors are well protected and "unlikely to be damaged by conventional military action".

"However, there is a raft of supporting infrastructure - such as cooling and electrical power - that might be targeted by the Russians to cover any withdrawal," he says.

An option for Ukraine in its ongoing counteroffensive is to launch an "all-out assault" on Russian forces based at the plant to recapture it, Bell adds.

He says: "However, this risks damage to the plant itself, and provides Russia with the opportunity to blame Ukraine for any damage to the facilities, even if instigated by Russia.

"Instead, Ukraine might seek to encircle the plant, clear the surrounding area, and then negotiate the safe passage of those Russian forces remaining at the facilities.

"This has the potential to end Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and return it to Ukraine management in the most effective and safe manner."


What would happen if the nuclear plant blows up in Ukraine? ›

If the reported explosives were to detonate, this would “open up a cold reactor, which would expose spent fuel to the air, which will spread some radiation,” Alberque told CNN. “A plume will come off from the reactor where there will be radiation aerosolized,” he said.

How far can radiation travel from a nuclear power plant explosion? ›

The government's10-mile evacuation zone is a rough estimate of how far imminently dangerous, higher levels of radiation could spread in a severe accident; however wind and other aspects of the weather would determine the actual path and distance fallout would travel in the immediate aftermath of a crisis.

What would happen if Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant explodes? ›

The least dangerous of the four scenarios, blowing up the dry fuel storage, would impact people in the direct downwind, who would have an increased risk of cancer in their lifetime, Alberque said. The most dangerous scenario would be to blow up the reactor vessel inside the building itself, Alberque said.

How far would Ukraine nuclear plant explosion reach? ›

Cizelj estimated a 30-kilometer radius. “It will be a tragedy for the local people,” he said, even if it would create no immediate casualties, but “for us in Europe … it would be a very unimportant event, in terms of consequences for health or anything else in the environment.”

Is the nuclear plant in Ukraine at risk? ›

Ukraine: cooling pond at Zaporizhzhia plant at risk after dam collapse – report. The cooling pond at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is in danger of collapse as a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and the draining of its reservoir, according to a French nuclear safety organisation.

What are the long lasting effects of the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl Ukraine? ›

To date, epidemiological studies of the long-term effects of the Chernobyl accident have mainly focused on the three most severe health outcomes which emerged in the 30 years after the accident: (1) leukemia in cleanup workers; (2) cataracts and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in cleanup workers; and (3) thyroid cancer ...

What would happen if a nuclear bomb went off? ›

A nuclear explosion releases vast amounts of energy in the form of blast, heat and radiation. An enormous shockwave reaches speeds of many hundreds of kilometres an hour. The blast kills people close to ground zero, and causes lung injuries, ear damage and internal bleeding further away.


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