Russia's defense ministry said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces tried to seize the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine and "measures had been taken" to destroy the opposing troops, including use of military aviation.
Ukrainian assault troops were spotted by Russian forces near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and are now pinned down by the Russian air force, a local Russian-installed official said on Thursday.
In an interview with Russian state broadcaster RT, Vladimir Rogov said that Ukrainian forces launched an attack out of "desperation" over a planned International Atomic Energy Agency visit to Enerhodar's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant today.
Russia's Defense Ministry also reported an attack on the nuclear plant by up to 60 Ukrainian soldiers. It said measures were being taken to destroy the attackers.
The ministry said that "measures had been taken" to destroy the opposing troops, including the use of military aviation.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, is scheduled to be visited by an International Atomic Energy Agency mission on Thursday to assess risks from the ongoing hostilities in the area.
The plant was captured by Russian forces in March. It remains near the frontlines and has come under repeated shelling in recent weeks, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the facility.
The Ukrainian president's chief of staff accused Russia of seeking to "wreck" the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection visit to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, saying Russia shelled the plant again on Thursday.
"The Russians have shelled (the town of) Enerhodar and the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant," Yermak wrote on Telegram, accusing Russia of acting like a "terrorist state."
Russia's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that a Ukrainian "sabotage group" that it said landed near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was being destroyed with the use of helicopters, Interfax news agency reported.
State-owned news agency RIA cited the ministry as saying the group had launched an attack from two boats, both of which had been sunk.
A Reuters reporter near the plant in Russian-controlled Enerhodar witnessed increased military activity on Thursday, with soldiers running about and helicopters flying overhead. The reporter said a residential building was struck by shelling, forcing people to take cover in a basement.
Russian-backed separatists said on Thursday that 13 emergency service personnel were killed and nine wounded after coming under Ukrainian artillery fire in the Russian-controlled part of Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
"On Sept. 1, at around 4 a.m., a group of emergency services personnel from the DPR carrying out their tasks in the village of Rubtsi ... came under artillery fire from Ukrainian armed formations," officials from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said on Telegram.
Russian troops were shelling the route of the IAEA mission planned to allow them access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia region said on Thursday.
"The Russians are shelling the pre-agreed route of the IAEA mission from (the city of) Zaporizhzhia to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The UN advance team cannot continue to move due to security reasons," Starukh wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission set off from the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia towards the nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled town of Enerhodar.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi said that he would consider establishing a continued presence at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant before heading to the plant on Thursday.
"There has been increased military activity including this morning, until very recently, a few minutes ago ... but weighing the pros and cons and having come so far, we are not stopping," he told journalists before leaving for the nuclear power plant.
"There has been increased military activity including this morning, until very recently, a few minutes ago ... but weighing the pros and cons and having come so far, we are not stopping."IAEA head Rafael Grossi
Ukraine nuclear reactor shut down due to shelling, the operator says
One of two operational reactors at Ukraine's Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant complex has been shut down due to Russian shelling, operator Energoatom said on Thursday.
"As a result of another mortar shelling by Russian ... forces at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the emergency protection was activated and the operational fifth power unit was shut down," Energoatom wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Energoatom added that "power unit No. 6 continues to work in the energy system of Ukraine" and is supplying electricity for the power plant's own needs.
Red Cross: Humanitarian response to Zaporizhzhia plant could be 'impossible'
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross called on Thursday for all fighting near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia power plant to stop, warning that little could be done to respond in the event of a major accident there.
"In the event of a nuclear leak, it will be difficult if not impossible to provide humanitarian assistance ... and this is why fighting should stop," Robert Mardini told a news conference during a visit to Ukraine.
"The scenario could be a massive incident, and ... there is very little anyone can do to mitigate the dire consequences of this," he said, when asked about contingency planning for an accident at Europe's largest nuclear plant.