Russian strikes hit areas of eastern Ukraine this week, while Ukraine fought back with strikes of their own into Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. Concerns about Russian-controlled nuclear power plants in Ukraine are on the rise while President Vladimir Putin warns that he is considering stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus as early as the summer.
Here are some key updates in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
1. Russian rocket attack in Kramatorsk
Missile strikes hit Sloviansk in the Donetsk region Monday, killing at least two people and injuring 32.
“The rubble removal has finished,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk region military administration, said, per CNN. “All the injured are being provided with the medical treatment, including being taken to the hospitals of the neighbouring regions.”
Shortly after that attack, a Russian rocket struck a kindergarten and school in the eastern city of Kramatorsk Monday night — no casualties were reported, but six houses and one nonresidential building were damaged in the attack, CNN reported.
Ukraine is preparing to go on the offensive, striking a university in Melitopol, where Russian military was using the building as military barracks and an administrative building for Russian security forces, according to The Wall Street Journal.
2. Putin warns he could station nuclear weapons in Belarus by summer
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he could station nuclear weapons in Belarus by the summer, positioning the weapons in a country that borders three countries that belong to NATO — Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
He said on Russian state television “that 10 Belarusian warplanes have already been retrofitted to carry nuclear weapons,” and a facility to store the weaponry could be prepared to house them by July 1, The New York Times reported.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, many have heightened concerns over possible nuclear war, but U.S. officials “believe the risk of their use is low,” per the Times.
3. Concerns grow about Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in March 2022, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using the plant as blackmail. It is currently “receiving the electricity it needs to prevent a reactor meltdown,” The Associated Press reported.
Experts are concerned about the possibility of nuclear fallout, and the International Atomic Energy Agency placed experts in charge of monitoring all four of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine to minimize risk of accident, starting last week.
“I met with IAEA head Rafael Grossi. The topic is clear: the security of our energy industry, our nuclear plants. First of all, the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which Russia still uses for radiation blackmail of the world,” Zelenskyy said, per CNN. “No other terrorist has reached such depths in his cynicism, in which Russia constantly seeks and finds a new bottom.”
4. Actor Orlando Bloom meets Zelenskyy, children affected by Ukraine war
British actor Orlando Bloom met with Zelenskyy and with children affected by the war in a visitor’s center on Sunday. Bloom is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s organization, Vanity Fair reported.
Zelenksyy posted on Instagram, “During the meeting, we discussed humanitarian aid projects, issues of reconstruction focused specifically on the interests of children. @unicef and our teams will work in several directions, bring victory closer and return a happy childhood to Ukrainian children.”