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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


by our Eastern European Affairs correspondent

UKRAINIAN troops and fascist militia are battling to hold the line as Russian and Donbas troops continue their offensive across the Donbas front. The Russians and their Donbas allies have taken Ukraine’s fortified positions west of Donetsk airport whilst launching a mini-offensive in the Kharkov region that resulted in the liberation of the town of Udy in northern Ukraine.

The liberation of Peski, located some 2 km away from the Donetsk Airport, is a major blow to the Ukrainians. Peski was one of the main pillars of Ukraine’s elaborate defence line in the Donetsk people’s republic (DPR).

The settlement had been heavily fortified since 2015. A DPR militia commander told the Russian media that the area had been turned into “literally one big garrison”, from which all civilians were evacuated long ago.

All the buildings in Peski are surrounded by trenches and Ukrainian defences had been set up in “according to NATO standards,” he said.

Nothing much has been seen of the much-vaunted Ukrainian offensive apart from the contin­uous shelling of a nuclear power plant in the liberated south of the country, which they claim is being used as a Russian base, and a couple of sabotage and drone attacks on an air-base and an arms dump on the Crimean peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is increasing global concern at Ukrainian artillery and drone attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear plant that was liberated in March but is still run by Ukrainian staff.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye region military-civilian administration, says the Ukrainians are targeting the plant’s cooling system. Any damage to it may lead to the reactor’s overheating, which is fraught with a catastrophe that could be worse than the Chernobyl accident.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian armed forces shelled the city of Energodar and the Zaporozhye plant. The Zaporozhye thermal power station was also targeted by Ukrainian troops.

“Some of the shells fell between the thermal power plant and the nuclear power plant, and some on the thermal power plant. The nuclear power plant itself was not damaged and is operating normally. The air defence of the Russian army once again protected the site from the nuclear threat, which is being constantly provoked by Ukrainian nationalists,” Rogov said.

Rogov said a successful strike could result in a radiation release equivalent to a “dirty bomb”.

Since the storage site is out in the open, any hit will result in the release of nuclear waste ranging from dozens to hundreds of kilogrammes and contamination of the area, the Rogov explained. “In plain language, that would be like a dirty bomb.”

Although the reactor itself can only be destroyed with a tactical nuclear weapon, the coolant systems and waste storage are far more vulnerable and damage to them could easily cause a disaster, he further explained, adding that Ukrainian troops have already fired “several dozen” heavy projectiles at the cooling systems.

The Ukrainians, with NATO support, want a demilitarised zone around the plant but only in their favour, as they call for a significant Russian pull-back without a similar move on the Ukrainian side.

Although the Kiev plan has the blessing of the UN Secretary-General it has no Russian support. The senior Russian diplomat at the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said, if demilitarised, the nuclear facility could become vulnerable to provocations and terrorist attacks.

The Zaporozhye plant, which continues to supply the Ukrainian national grid, is still operating normally but it could be mothballed if it continues to come under fire.