- Fears about the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is growing after the Moscow-installed governor of the Ukrainian region where it is located ordered civilian evacuations.
- Wagner chief Yevgeny Prighozin said his forces will remain in the besieged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. He indicated his soldiers will continue the assault on the city after the Russian military promised more arms and ammunition.
- Russian nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin sent a defiant message to those who attempted to assassinate him. Prilepin is recovering from extensive injuries after a car bomb exploded killing his driver.
At least five people were injured in Kyiv early Monday when Russia launched a massive strike on the Ukraine capital.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the messaging app Telegram that three people were wounded in blasts in Kyiv’s Solomyanskyi district and two in the Sviatoshyn district, both west of the capital’s center.
Klitschko also said drone wreckage had fallen on a two-story building in the Sviatoshyn region.
The city administration said debris fell on a parked car, causing the car to catch fire.
Russian missiles also set ablaze a food warehouse in the Black Sea city of Odesa and blasts were reported in several other Ukrainian regions, Reuters reported.
The large-scale attacks come as Moscow prepares for its Victory Day parade on Tuesday.
Moscow reportedly wants a complete capture of Bakhmut to coincide with the country’s upcoming Victory Day, the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group reversed its intention to withdraw from the besieged eastern Ukrainian city. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his forces will remain there after Moscow promised to provide more arms to conscripts.
Also Sunday, fears about the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in east Ukraine grew after Russian officials ordered the evacuation of civilians from 18 settlements around the nuclear power plant.
The plant is near the front line of battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Russia fired more than 30 shells at Nikopol, a Ukrainian-held town neighboring the plant, killing a 72-year-old woman and injuring three others Sunday, according to Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine has also mounted attacks in the vicinity of the plant, according to The Associated Press.
The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency said in a statement Saturday the situation near the plant “is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous.”
“I’m extremely concerned about the very real nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said. “We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment.”
Russia is facing one its worst labor shortages since 1998. In an intelligence update Sunday, the British Defense Ministry wrote that the Russian Central Bank surveyed 14,000 employees and found that its labor force was at its lowest level since 1998.
The British Defense Ministry said the attrition of manpower due to the war in Ukraine as well as the mass exodus of Russians trying to avoid the draft are partially to blame for the labor shortage. The survey also showed that the Russian population has decreased by 2 million in the last three years due to the COVID pandemic and an aging population.
Russian car bombing
The prominent Russian nationalist writer, Zakhar Prilepin, who barely escaped death from a car bomb attack Saturday, sent a defiant message to his attackers.
“To the demons I say: You will scare nobody. There is a God. We will win,” he wrote Sunday on the messaging app Telegram from the hospital in the Nizhny Novgorod region where he is recovering.
Russia’s state Investigative Committee said his Audi Q7 was blown up Saturday in a village, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow. The attacker fled the scene.
Prilepin said both his legs were broken by the explosion that killed his driver. Russia’s Foreign Ministry blamed Ukraine and the Western states backing it, particularly the United States, for the attack on the pro-Russia writer.
Ukraine’s security services neither confirmed nor denied involvement. Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said he believed Russian authorities had staged the attack.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that Ukrainian officials expressed concerns about outsized international expectations for a planned major offensive by Ukrainian troops and that falling short of those expectations could mean losing military aid.
“Most people are … waiting for something huge,” the Post quoted Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov saying in an interview last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Post in an interview last week: “I believe that the more victories we have on the battlefield, frankly, the more people will believe in us, which means we will get more help.”
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.