Day 271: Russian Forces Pound Ukrainian Strongholds; UN Urges End to Attacks on Zaporizhzhia Plant

Nearly 400 strikes were launched in the eastern region by Russian forces against Ukrainian troops on Sunday, according to Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "The fiercest barrels, as before, are in the Donetsk region," he said in a video address.

Day 271: Russian Forces Pound Ukrainian Strongholds; UN Urges End to Attacks on Zaporizhzhia Plant
Image credit: AP Photo/LIBKOS [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Nearly 400 strikes were launched in the eastern region by Russian forces against Ukrainian troops on Sunday, according to Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "The fiercest barrels, as before, are in the Donetsk region," he said in a video address. Zelenskyy continued, saying, "there have been almost 400 artillery attacks in the east since the start of the day."
  • According to Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov, Russian forces have been attempting to penetrate Ukrainian lines of defense in areas such as Bakhut and Avdiivka, but "to no avail." He added: "We fight back — they suffer huge losses."
  • Elsewhere, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the UN's atomic watchdog — on Monday called for an end to attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, which remains occupied by Russian forces and was hit by heavy shelling over the weekend. Russian spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that Ukraine hit the plant twice on Sunday, but Ukrainian state-owned energy company Energoatom has blamed Moscow's forces for the ongoing strikes.
  • With Ukrainians facing ongoing shortages of electricity and hot water on Monday, Zelenskyy marked celebrations of the Day of Dignity and Freedom by telling people to: "stand tall till the end [...] In order not to lose freedom. Not to lose independence. Not to lose Ukraine." He also noted that there were plans for Ukrainians to gather in Independence Square to observe the occasion.
  • Meanwhile, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Monday announced plans to propose deploying additional air defense systems near the country's border with Ukraine. His remarks follow an offer from Germany to ship Patriot missile systems to secure its airspace.
  • Finally, the Office of Ukraine's General Prosecutor claimed that "four premises" used as torture sites by Russian forces had been discovered in Kherson. Alleged evidence includes "a device with which the occupiers tortured civilians with electricity," according to prosecutors.

Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, Pravda, New York Times, and Telegraph.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by New Scientist. Experts have made it clear – the situation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant presents the threat of another Chernobyl. A nuclear disaster has, miraculously, been avoided so far, but the continuing risks and the safety and effectiveness of staff to control the reactors could have catastrophic consequences.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Politico. Although Zaporizhzhia's cooling systems will be relatively vulnerable due to their contact with the outside world, the worst-case scenario would only cause severe damage at a local level. Both Russia and Ukraine are overstating the risk of nuclear catastrophe to galvanize domestic and international support.

Predictions