By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Authorities say Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in wartorn Ukraine has been shut down, and residents around the station are urged to evacuate amid heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces. The operations were halted as western intelligence suggests that Ukraine’s counter-offensive in response to the Russian invasion inflicted an extraordinary defeat on Moscow.
The agency in charge of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine said operations at the station had “been entirely halted.”
The agency, Energoatom, explained that the restoration of power to the plant had allowed it to do the safest thing and power down its sixth and last working reactor.
Yet concerns remain as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling the site, risking a nuclear disaster. Kyiv has called for residents in the area to evacuate Russian-occupied areas around the plant for their safety.
However, without the plant working as usual, Ukraine faces difficulties in energy supplies ahead of winter.
The plant, operational since 1984, accounted for 40 percent of the total electricity generated by Ukrainian nuclear power plants and one-fifth of electricity generated in the country.
The shutdown, monitored by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, comes amid signs that Ukraine’s military forced the Russian army to pull back thousands of troops after suffering a series of battlefield defeats.
Ukraine appears to have regained control of the two key cities of Kupiansk and Izium after a significant counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in recent days. And the regional governor says the Ukrainian flag has also been raised in the city of Balakliya.
They entered after wrongfooting Russian forces with a much-publicized Ukrainian southern offensive to distract Russia from the real one being prepared in the Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims his forces have retaken over 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) in a rapid counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed the withdrawal of its troops from Izium, the primary base for Moscow’s forces in Kharkiv.
However, it claimed they were being “regrouped” so that efforts could be stepped up in Donetsk. However, Zelensky warned that Donetsk is another area in the east that Kyiv wants to recapture one day completely.
“The entire Donetsk region will be liberated, will be safe and happy again. As it should be in Ukraine as it should be everywhere on our land,” the president says. Zelensky added.
“The movement of our soldiers in different directions of the front continues. As part of active actions since the beginning of September, about 2,000 kilometers of our territory have already been liberated,” the president said.
But some 200 days after the Russian invasion began, the war seems far from over, with Russian troops still holding about one-fifth of the country. And there are reports of widespread torture of prisoners of war and forced deportations.
Kyiv also says that Moscow is sending 1,300 Chechen fighters to the southern Kherson region, where Russian forces are under sustained pressure from Ukrainian attacks.
Tens of thousands, including many soldiers, are believed to have died in Europe’s most significant conflict since the Second World War, which displaced millions of people.
Among the victims was a woman killed and at least 20 civilians injured in Russian shelling over the weekend in the Kharkiv area, another reminder that the suffering continues.
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