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Russia | The Guardian: Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 171 of the invasion

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Ukraine claims strike on Russian depot near key southern bridge; UN urges demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant amid more shelling

Ukraine’s military said its artillery hit a Russian ammunition depot near a key bridge in the south and added it now had the ability to strike nearly all of Moscow’s supply lines in the occupied region. Reuters reported there was no immediate comment from Russian authorities on the report of the attack in Kherson province, or the purported reach of Ukraine’s firepower.

The UN has urged a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over more shelling. Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said the facility in the country’s south-east had been shelled five times by Russian forces on Thursday, resulting in staff being unable to change shifts. Valentyn Reznichenko, the Dnipropetrovsk region’s governor, reportedly said three civilians – including a boy – were wounded in overnight shelling on Friday in Marhanets, a town opposite the plant.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has told government officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks are “frankly irresponsible”. In the wake of major blasts that wrecked a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers cited unidentified officials as saying Ukrainian forces were responsible. The government in Kyiv, on the other hand, declined to say whether it had been behind the explosions.

The UK Ministry of Defence has said the explosions at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea earlier in the week were “almost certainly” from the detonation of up to four uncovered munition storage areas, though what set them off remained unclear. At least five Su-24 Fencer fighter-bombers and three Su-30 Flanker H multi-role jets were almost certainly destroyed or seriously damaged in the blasts, according to British intelligence.

The devastation at the Russian air base in Crimea suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. The base is well beyond the range of advanced rockets that western countries acknowledge sending to Ukraine so far, with some western military experts saying the scale of the damage and the apparent precision of the strike suggested a powerful new capability with potentially important implications.

Ukraine’s security agencies issued a joint statement calling for the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send representatives to locations where Russia is holding Ukrainian prisoners of war. The request on Friday follows earlier allegations by Kyiv that Moscow’s forces have tortured and executed prisoners, including by staging an explosion in a Ukrainian PoW camp in Olenivka.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted that he spoke with Pope Francis on Friday. “Informed about the aggression that the Russian Federation is carrying out against Ukraine, about the terrible crimes of Russia,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has said a shipment of M20 MLRS tanks has arrived in Ukraine. In a tweet, he thanked the UK’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, and British people for the donation, which had been pledged earlier. “Your support is amazing and so important for Ukraine.”

Jose Andres, whose World Central Kitchen group has served more than 130m meals in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February, called for better coordination of food relief efforts ahead of what promises to be a brutal winter. Donations were easing as the war dragged on, he warned, which meant that WCK, which provides short-term emergency relief, must start winding down operations just as cold weather is likely to exacerbate problems facing millions of displaced Ukrainians.

India said on Friday there was no pressure on it from western countries or anywhere else over its energy purchases from Russia, as Indian firms step up imports of oil and coal from the country shunned by others for its invasion of Ukraine. India, the world’s third-biggest crude importer, overtook China to become the biggest buyer of Russian oil in July based on sea-borne volumes, having bought very little from Russia before the start of the war in Ukraine in February.

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Russia | The Guardian

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