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Russia targets Zaporizhzhia area; U.S. decries Moscow’s ‘cynical obstructionism’

Aug. 28, 2022 Updated Sun., Aug. 28, 2022 at 8:36 p.m.

Tank barriers are seen in front of a barricade in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on March 29.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
Tank barriers are seen in front of a barricade in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on March 29. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Adela Suliman and Meena Venkataramanan Washington Post

Russia stepped up strikes in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region on Sunday as residents near the embattled nuclear power plant were urged to prepare for the possibility of a nuclear accident. The United States said Russia blocked consensus on a nuclear nonproliferation treaty to deny the “grave radiological risk” at the power plant.

The State Department said Russia blocked consensus on a final draft of a United Nations nuclear nonproliferation treaty to avoid “language that merely acknowledged the grave radiological risk” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The statement from State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said Russia’s refusal to agree to the treaty “underscores the need for the United States and others to continue urging Russia to end its military activity near” the plant and “return control of the plant to Ukraine.” He said the United States and other nations involved are urging Russia to stop its activity near the plant despite Moscow’s “cynical obstructionism.”

Russia plans to publish a manifesto claiming to be from Ukraine’s paramilitary Azov regiment and vowing to protect Ukraine from Russia and “the rot above,” the militia said Sunday. The Azov regiment distanced itself from the manifesto, declaring that it did not write the document. The group reaffirmed its commitment to avenging the death of Azov regiment soldiers and said it would direct its revenge against Russia and its proxies.

The Dnipropetrovsk region was shelled with heavy artillery overnight Sunday, according to the regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko. The area includes Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. More than 1,500 families were left without electricity. Residential buildings and cars were damaged, he said, but no casualties were reported. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims.

The State Department confirmed that another U.S. citizen has died but did not identify the person. The agency has confirmed the deaths of three U.S. citizens, though other fatalities have been reported. Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Russia’s Primorsky Krai region, said Friday that troops had killed an American in battle.

Russia’s military expansion probably will have little impact on the Ukraine war, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The expansion announced Thursday was set to increase Russia’s military from 1.9 million personnel to 2.04 million, coming into effect in 2023, but Britain said the expansion was “unlikely” to substantively increase Russia’s combat power, because it had already “lost tens of thousands of troops.” The ministry added that “very few” new contract servicemen are being recruited, and conscripts do not have to serve outside Russia.

Ukrainian troops said they hit the Sokol aircraft plant, occupied by Russian forces, in the Nova Kakhovka area of Kherson, Ukrainian media reported Sunday. They said Russian air defense attempted to intercept the missiles that hit the plant. The Ukrainian military also said it had hit a hydroelectric power station and a bridge in the same area, reports that could not be independently verified by the Post.

Russian forces claimed to hit a helicopter repair plant, according to the country’s defense ministry. Ukrainian officials also said residential buildings in the town of Orihiv had been destroyed by Russian strikes early Sunday, but no casualties were reported, according to the governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Oleksandr Starukh; the Ukrainian military said Russian strikes hit Poltavka. The Washington Post could not independently verify those claims.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will announce “state awards to friends of Ukraine abroad” on Sunday. The honors will go to those individuals who have made a “significant” contribution to support Ukraine during the war, he said. They will include “our helpers in the struggle for freedom and life” to whom “Ukraine will always be grateful,” he added.

The United States plans to appoint an ambassador at large for the Arctic as Russian presence grows in the area. The role will advance U.S. policy in the region and reflects its growing strategic importance, the State Department said. The NATO chief visited the Canadian Arctic this weekend and warned Russia had reopened hundreds of Soviet-era military sites there, which could pose a challenge to the military bloc.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered payments and welfare benefits be made to Ukrainians arriving in Russia, according to a law signed this weekend. Earlier this year, others leaving Ukraine, including from the Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, were given Russian passports and payments of 10,000 rubles ($170).

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