Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 165 of the invasion

UN nuclear watchdog warns of disaster risk as Zaporizhzhia power plant shelled; war about to enter a new phase, UK intelligence predicts

The UN nuclear watchdog has called for an immediate end to all military action near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after it was hit by shelling, causing one of the reactors to shut down and creating a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”. Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was “extremely concerned” by reports of damage as Zelenskiy accused Russia of using the plant “for terror”.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, according to British intelligence. “The heaviest fighting [will shift] to a roughly 350km frontline stretching south-west from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, paralleling the Dnieper river,” the UK Ministry of Defence said.

Russia is amassing troops in the south of Ukraine but the purpose of the buildup is not yet clear, UK intelligence warned. The Ministry of Defence said Russian forces could be preparing for a new assault or merely anticipating a counter-offensive from Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are focusing their targeting on bridges, ammunition depots, and rail links to affect Russia’s ability to logistically resupply in Ukraine’s southern regions, the ministry added.

A foreign-flagged ship arrived in Ukraine on Saturday for the first time since the war started in February, to be loaded with grain. The Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S was in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk and Ukraine planned to “reach the level of at least three to five vessels per day in two weeks’ [time]”.

Horrific video and photos appear to show a fresh atrocity with remains of a Ukrainian prisoner of war stuck on a pole outside a house in the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, which was captured by Russian forces in May and is close to the current frontline in the Donbas. “There is nothing human about the Russians. We are at war with non-humans,” said the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk province, Serhiy Haidai.

The head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office has quit the human rights body in a disagreement after the group accused Ukraine’s armed forces of endangering civilians by basing troops in residential areas. Amnesty’s Ukraine head Oksana Pokalchuk said that she was resigning as she opposed the report’s publication, saying the human rights group unwittingly “created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives of the invasion”.

Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have been burned to death inside a Russian detention centre outside Donetsk, while many others face torture under a regime of “absolute evil”, a former prisoner has said. Anna Vorosheva, a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur, was trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Mariupol when she was arrested and held on charges of “terrorism”.

A European Union plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency has said. Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.

A Russian journalist has reportedly been arrested at the border on suspicion that she could be a spy, Kosovo’s interior minister said on Saturday. Xhelal Svecla named the journalist as Daria Aslamova. “Many countries have proven that she was engaged in espionage for Russian military intelligence and that she pretended to be a journalist,” Svecla said.

An official with the Russian occupying authorities in Kherson was gravely wounded on Saturday in an attempted assassination, local Moscow-backed officials said. Vitaly Gur “is in hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, in a critical state”, an unnamed official told Russian state news agency Tass.

Meta, formerly named Facebook, has removed a network of Instagram accounts operated by a troll farm in St Petersburg, Russia. 45 Facebook accounts and 1,037 Instagram accounts were removed after the report found that about $1,400 had been spent in rubles to pay for ads on Facebook and Instagram.

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