To the emotion of the announcement of the death, this Friday, of the British humanitarian Paul Urey, detained since the end of April by the pro-Russian separatists of Donetsk, is added, for the international community, the concern to see the Russian army deploy missile launchers from Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia.
The Ukrainian nuclear energy operator accused, on Friday July 15, the Russian army of having deployed missile launchers on the site of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, in southern Ukraine, in order to fire in particular on the Nikopol and Dnipro regions, where strikes were reported last night. “The situation at the plant is extremely tense and the tension is increasing day by day. The occupants are bringing their machinery there, including missile systems,” the operator said. Up to 500 Russian soldiers are on the site of the power plant, the largest in Ukraine, which fell into the hands of Russian forces at the beginning of March.
“The enemy continues to carry out offensives on formerly occupied territories but, failing success on the ground, it is stepping up missile and air strikes,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. The Ukrainian military command for the Sumy region, 350 km east of kyiv, reported mortar fire and shelling throughout the day on Friday, which left a total of one dead and seven wounded. In the evening, it was Kramatorsk, a city in Donbass still under Ukrainian control, which suffered several bombardments. A strike left a two-meter crater in the city’s central square, but it did not cause any casualties.
Two days after the death of at least 23 people, including three children, after a Russian strike on a commercial building in the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said that “the identification of all culprits” of this attack had “already begun”. “Russian society, with so many murderers and executioners, will remain annihilated for generations, and this by its own fault,” he said in his speech on Friday evening. Faced with international condemnations, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have targeted Vinnytsia for a meeting of the “command of the Ukrainian air forces with representatives of foreign arms suppliers”. But a senior US defense official said there was “no indication of the presence of a nearby military target”.
In the Donbass, the separatist forces claimed to continue to advance and to be on the verge of taking complete control of Siversk, attacked after the capture of Lysychansk. “Russian forces are slowly advancing west after shelling and assaulting towards Siversk, to open a path to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk,” according to the UK Ministry of Defence. For its part, Ukraine launched a counter-offensive several weeks ago to retake Kherson, a city in the south of the country taken by the Russians at the start of the conflict.
Pro-Russian separatist authorities in the Donetsk region have announced the death in captivity of a British national, Paul Urey, captured a few weeks ago in southern Ukraine. At the end of April, a UK-based NGO reported that two aid workers had been taken prisoner by the Russian army. An official of the Donetsk separatists then declared that Pau Urey had “directed military operations, recruited and trained mercenaries”, with the aim of helping Ukraine in the conflict.
“I am shocked by reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey, detained on behalf of Russia in Ukraine,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, adding that Russia in would bear “full responsibility”.
The Russian gas giant Gazprom announced on Saturday that it had officially asked the German group Siemens to hand over a turbine repaired in Canada in order to ensure the operations of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which supplies Europe with gas. The fate of this turbine, presented by Gazprom as essential to the operation of the infrastructure, has for several weeks cast doubt on the future of Russian gas deliveries to Europe. This equipment had been sent by Siemens to Canada for repair. Despite the sanctions aimed at Moscow for its offensive in Ukraine, Ottawa has announced that it will send the turbine back to Germany. Before the shutdown of Nord Stream, Russia had already greatly reduced deliveries in recent weeks, justifying them by the lack of Siemens turbines.
Ukraine announced on Friday that it had received its first delivery of a sophisticated multiple rocket launcher system, adding to a long-range artillery arsenal provided by the West. “The first MLRS M270s have arrived! They will be good company on the battlefield,” Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defense Minister, wrote on social media.
London announced in June the delivery of these rocket launchers with a range of 80 kilometers, in addition to the American Himars precision artillery systems, of the same range, sent by Washington. Thanks to the Himars, the Ukrainian army has destroyed, since mid-June, more than 20 large Russian ammunition depots and command posts, previously too far from the front line to be reached by traditional projectiles.