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In a rare exception, Russia released a video on Saturday of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspecting troops in frontline areas of Ukraine.

The ministry said Sergei Shoigu visited an outpost in the direction of South Donetsk, but did not specify exactly where or when.

He traveled by helicopter and was seen talking to soldiers in front of a damaged building.

An ISW ‚Äč‚Äčthink tank said Shoigu was there “likely to assess the extent of Russian losses around Vugledar and the likelihood of further attacks in this direction.”

Zaporizhia “Hostage”

The epicenter of the fighting is in eastern Ukraine, but 13 people were killed in a strike this week in an apartment building in southern Zaporizhia.

Zaporizhia, along with Donetsk, Lugansk and Kherson, is one of four regions that Russia claims to have annexed but not under full control.

Nevertheless, the Moscow military has held the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant since March 4, 2022.

Nuclear power plants, like the Chernobyl disaster that shook Ukraine in 1986, have repeatedly made headlines and revived the horrors of nuclear disasters.

The exiled mayor of Energodar, which houses the central government, told AFP that Russia was using the factory as a “nuclear shield” for its army and equipment.

Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of shelling near the factory, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has posted observers there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that Russia “held hostage” a nuclear power plant a year ago and “turned the (power plant’s) territory into a de facto military training ground.”

President Zelensky also met with European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola on Saturday, asking for Ukraine to be allowed to start EU accession talks this year.

The United States on Friday announced a new $400 million security assistance package for Ukraine featuring a range of ammunition for the Kiev army. Ukraine says Russia pursues ‘attempt to encircle’ Bakhmut

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