Russian missile strikes 300m away from nuclear plant, claims Ukraine, as rhetoric harshens

Ukrainian troops near Kharkiv. Credit: AP

Ukraine claim a Russian missile struck just three hundred meters away from a nuclear power plant, in what officials are denouncing as an act 'of nuclear terrorism.'

The strike follows hardline rhetoric from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suggested his forces would 'step up' attacks on civilian infrastructure following a number of setbacks on the battlefield.

The crater left outside the plant. Credit: AP

CCTV footage released by Ukrainian authorities shows two large fireballs striking the earth just after midnight on Monday, allegedly near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant.

The plant is Ukraine’s second-largest after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is Europe's largest nuclear power station and has repeatedly come under fire during the war.

An aerial view of the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant. Credit: AP

Russian forces have occupied the area since the early days of Moscow's nearly seven-month invasion. Repeated shelling has cut off its transmission lines, forcing operators to shut down its six reactors to avoid a radiation disaster. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the strikes.

Strikes near the Pivdennoukrainsk plant coincide with a round of attacks across the country, with Ukraine's presidential office claiming that at least eight civilians were killed and 22 wounded on Monday.

Russia denies Kharkiv war crimes

The alleged mass grave outside Izyum. Credit: AP

On Monday Russian authorities denied Ukrainian allegations of war crimes in areas previously under occupation.

Since Russian troops withdrew from the Kharkiv region. Ukraine has accused them of committing war crimes, including mass killings.

A large grave was uncovered in the village of Izyum, with reports of bodies being found with their hands tied behind their backs and others with signs of torture.

Speaking in Moscow on Monday, President Putin's advisor Dmitry Peskov said: "It's the same scenario as in Bucha, it's unfolding in accordance with the same scenario.

"It's a lie, and, of course, we will defend the truth in that."

After Russian soldiers left the town of Bucha outside Kyiv at the end of March, hundreds of civilian bodies were found, many with their hands tied. Russia has disputed it was responsible, or that killings took place at all.