Russian Forces Shell Eastern, Southern Ukraine

Ukraine’s military reported Monday heavy shelling by Russian forces in the eastern Donbas region, as well as in areas in southern Ukraine, including towns around Kherson and Mykolaiv.

The report from the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also cited tank fire and aerial attacks in towns to the east and south of Zaporizhzhia.

Tensions have been high around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with the two sides continuing to accuse each other of firing weapons near the plant. Russia captured the facility in March, shortly after it invaded Ukraine.

The plant’s operator reported the facility was at risk of violating radiation and fire standards after a surge in rocket fire in the last week.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said there’s “a real risk of nuclear disaster” unless the fighting stops and inspectors are allowed inside the facility.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used part of his nightly video address Sunday to call on Russians to oppose the war that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched in late February. Zelenskyy said Russian citizens who are silent about the war are supporting it.

“And no matter where you are — on the territory of Russia or abroad — your voice should sound in support of Ukraine, and therefore against this war,” Zelenskyy said.

He also voiced support for a potential European Union visa ban for Russian travelers.

Grain shipments

A United Nations-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain set sail Sunday for Ethiopia in the first such shipment from war-ravaged Ukraine, aimed at helping a nation facing famine.

The Liberia-flagged Brave Commander left from the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne, east of Odesa, and plans to sail to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and transferred to Ethiopia under the U.N.’s World Food Program initiative.

Ukraine and Russia reached a deal with Turkey and the United Nations three weeks ago to restart Black Sea grain deliveries to end major export disruptions occurring since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Ethiopia is one of five countries that the U.N. considers at risk of starvation.

“The capacity is there. The grain is there. The demand is there across the world and in particular, these countries,” WFP Ukraine coordinator Denise Brown told The Associated Press. “So, if the stars are aligned, we are very, very hopeful that all the actors around this agreement will come together on what is really an issue for humanity. So today was very positive.”

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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