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Ukraine shuts ‘post-apocalyptic’ battlefield town to civilians

Ukrainian military video showed smoke billowing from ruined apartment blocks and dead soldiers on open ground and in trenches in Bakhmut.

Kyiv also said Russian forces again shelled Vuhledar, further south in the Donetsk region, where they have tried to advance for weeks with what the Ukrainian military says are heavy losses.

Two people were killed and 32 wounded on Monday after Russian forces fired two S-300 missiles at the eastern city of Sloviansk northwest of Bakhmut, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

In Russia, residents of Kireyevsk, 220km south of Moscow, reacted angrily to damage from what the defence ministry said was a Ukrainian drone it downed there on Sunday.

The ministry said three people were injured and apartment blocks were hit. It was among the closest such incidents to the Russian capital so far.

“We were used to seeing these things only online but now we’ve felt it ourselves. Now we know how it is,” 62-year-old Kireyevsk resident Yuri Ovchinnikov told Reuters as Russian soldiers combed the area around the damaged buildings.

There was no official comment from Kyiv. Ukrainian officials generally do not respond to reports of attacks within Russia, though they have sometimes celebrated them without accepting culpability.

ZELENSKYY MEETS IAEA CHIEF

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region on Monday, his third trip to the front line in less than a week.

He awarded soldiers medals and discussed nuclear safety¬†with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, who also travelled to the area, home to Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control for the past year.

Zelenskyy met Grossi at the Dnipro hydroelectric power station. He told him the staff at Zaporizhzhia were under pressure from Russian occupying forces who failed to observe certain safety rules and interfered in its technological functions.

“Without an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and staff from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station and adjacent areas, any initiative on restoring nuclear safety and security are doomed to failure,” the president’s website quoted him as telling Grossi.

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