Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 166 of the invasion

<span>Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
  • Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has accused Ukraine of taking “Europe hostage” over the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The plant is occupied by Russian forces, and each side has claimed the other has caused damage to the complex by shelling it. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been seeking to inspect it. Zakharova said: “The leaders of the United Nations and the IAEA, over and over again, do not dare to directly name the source of the threat. They are demonstrating their unwillingness to point the finger at Kyiv.”

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for new international sanctions on Moscow for “nuclear terror”. The UN nuclear watchdog has called for an immediate end to all military action near the plant after it was hit by shelling on Saturday night, causing one of the reactors to shut down and creating a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.

  • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is operating normally according to reports from Yevgeniy Balitsky, head of the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region. The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom called for the plant to be made a military-free zone, and said there should be a team of peacekeepers present at the site.

  • Ukraine conducted long-range strikes on Russian troop bases and two key bridges across the Dnieper River overnight. The strikes hit the only two crossings Russia has to the pocket of southern Ukrainian territory it has occupied on the western bank of the river, said Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command. “The results are rather respectable, hits on the Antonivskyi and Kakhovskyi bridges,” she said on television. Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the pro-Russian administration imposed on occupied Kherson told Interfax “The equipment of the builders who are repairing the Antonivskiy Bridge burned down, there are no critical damages. But the opening of the bridge is slightly delayed.”

  • A Ukrainian court has sentenced a Russian soldier to 10 years in jail after finding him guilty of violating the laws and customs of war by firing a tank at a multi-story apartment block, an interior ministry official said.

  • Ukraine has received its first three Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems from Germany and will use them to defend important infrastructure facilities, the southern military command has said.

  • The Russian-installed head of southern Ukraine’s occupied Zaporizhzhia region signed on Monday a decree providing for a referendum on joining Russia.

  • Zelenskiy said on Sunday that there could be no talks with Russia if it proceeds with referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine on joining Russia. Russian forces now hold large areas of territory in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

  • Four ships carrying Ukrainian foodstuffs sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday. Pope Francis welcomed the departure of the ships carrying grain from Ukrainian Black Sea ports saying this could be a model for dialogue to bring an end to the war in Ukraine. Two more grain carrying ships have sailed from Ukraine’s Black sea ports on Monday, and the Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of Ukrainian corn, has arrived in Turkey.

  • Russia is strengthening its positions and numbers on Ukraine’s southern front to ready itself for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and is likely to be preparing the ground to attack, according to British and Ukrainian military authorities. “Russian troops are almost certainly amassing in the south, either waiting for a Ukrainian counteroffensive or preparing to attack. Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, artillery and other things continue to move from the Donbas to the south-west,” the UK’s defence ministry said.

  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said if Russia were allowed to bully Ukraine, to invade and take territory without being opposed, then it would be “open season” around the world. The US’s top diplomat was speaking at a news conference alongside South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor. Pandor said no one in South Africa supported the war in Ukraine but that the prescripts of international law were not being applied evenly. “We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine, as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine,” she said.

  • Russian shelling was recorded on Saturday in dozens of towns along the eastern and southern frontlines, according to the Ukrainian military. It also said Russian forces attempted to conduct assault in six different areas in the eastern Donetsk region, all of which failed to gain any territory and were held back by Ukrainian forces.

  • Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia’s invasion in February and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters. Of those charged, approximately 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large.

  • Finland has registered a record number of asylum seekers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, beating a previous high set during the 2015 migrant crisis.

  • Human rights group Amnesty International apologised for the “distress and anger” caused by a report that accused Ukraine of endangering civilians. The apology comes after Amnesty’s Ukraine head Oksana Pokalchuk said that she was resigning as she opposed the report’s publication, saying the human rights group unwittingly “created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives of the invasion”.

  • UK defence secretary Ben Wallace welcomed a decision by Sweden to join countries contributing to the UK-led program to train Ukrainian personnel in the UK.