Russia launches fresh missile strike on Ukrainian city near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Emergency services from Zaporizhzhia had to rescue people trapped in multi-story buildings following Russia's latest attack on the city. Credit: AP

Russia launched seven missiles at residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia before dawn on Thursday, killing one person and trapping at least five, according to the governor of the mostly Russian-occupied region.

The city is positioned close to Europe's biggest nuclear power plant.

Governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on his Telegram channel that a number of people were rescued from multi-story buildings, including a three-year-old girl who was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The strikes came just hours after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the country's military had retaken three more villages in one of the regions illegally annexed by Russia.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in violation of international laws on Wednesday, and is home to a nuclear plant that is under Russian occupation.

The city of the same name remains under Ukrainian control.

Later this week the head of the United Nation's (UN) nuclear watchdog is expected to visit Kyiv to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia facility.

It comes after the Russian president signed a decree declaring that Moscow was taking over the six-reactor plant.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is currently under Russian control. Credit: AP

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void.” The state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it would continue to operate the plant.

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plans to talk with Ukrainian officials about the Russian move.

He will also discuss efforts to set up a secure protection zone around the facility, which has been damaged in the fighting and seen staff including its director abducted by Russian troops.

Mr Grossi will then travel to Moscow for talks with Russian officials after his visit to Kyiv.

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Meanwhile, leaders from more than 40 countries are meeting in Prague on Thursday to launch a “European Political Community” aimed at boosting security and prosperity across the continent.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia".

Mr Peskov did not specify which additional Ukrainian territories Moscow is eyeing, and he wouldn’t say if the Kremlin planned to organise more of the “referendums” in Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government and the West have dismissed as illegitimate.

The precise borders of the areas Moscow is claiming remain unclear, but Putin has vowed to defend Russia’s territory - including the annexed regions - with any means at his military’s disposal, including nuclear weapons.