RUSSIA/UKRAINE: Russia has most probably lost at least four combat jets in Ukraine within the last 10 days, taking its attrition to about 55 ever since the beginning of its invasion, the British military notified on Monday.
A real possibility for the rising numbers of losses was partially a result of the Russian Air Force accepting greater risk in a move to provide close air support to Russian ground forces under intense pressure from Ukrainian advances, the Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence report on Twitter.
It also said that Russian pilots’ situational awareness is relatively poor. “There is a real possibility that some aircraft have strayed over enemy territory and into denser air defence zones as the front lines have moved rapidly.”
Meanwhile, Russian troops reportedly attacked the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday.
Fortunately, its reactors have not been damaged and are in proper working conditions, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said.
Energoatom said in a statement that a blast occurred 300 metres (yards) away from the reactor site and damaged nearby power plant buildings shortly after midnight. The blast has also compromised the functioning of a close hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.
“Currently, all three power units of the PNPP (Pivdennoukrainsk Nuclear Power Plant) are operating normally. Fortunately, there were no casualties among the station staff,” Energoatom said.
Commenting on the strike on the Telegram messaging app, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky brought international concern to the grave issue, which could similar to concerns like it did with the Zaporizhzhia plant.
“The invaders wanted to shoot again, but they forgot what a nuclear power plant is. Russia endangers the whole world. We have to stop it before it’s too late,” he said.
There was no immediate Russian response to Ukraine’s accusations. The Mykolaiv region has been plagued by constant rocket attacks by Russian forces in recent weeks.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is Europe’s largest and lies about 250 km (155 miles) east of the Mykolaiv site was shut down earlier this month due to reports of Russian shelling, prompting international concerns about a potential Chornobyl-like nuclear “catastrophe”.
Both Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the constant shelling at Zaporizhzhia, which is held by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian staff. The shelling has damaged buildings and disrupted power lines.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Agency of Atomic Energy (IAEA), said this weekend that one of the four main power lines at the plant had been repaired and was once again supplying the plant with electricity from the Ukrainian grid.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has panned out for more than six months, began as Putin’s “special military operation” aimed at protecting Russian-speaking minorities and eliminating staunch nationalists from Ukraine.
However, as reports emerged about mass killings, massacres, shelling, explosions, and intense military hardware in Ukrainian streets, Ukraine began to unravel the horrifying atrocities of Russian aggression.
As one of the most volatile sites in the world, Zaporizhzhia, was also targeted, the international nuclear agency was compelled to intervene and provide an objective assessment to avoid a nuclear disaster.