Ukraine war round-up: Nuclear plant off grid and Putin orders army expansion

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Image shows nuclear plantImage source, Reuters
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The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant pictured on Monday

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost its electricity supply from the Ukrainian grid for the first time in its history on Thursday.

Power was disconnected to the last two working reactors at the plant twice during the day then restored, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine's nuclear energy agency claimed nearby fires had earlier damaged overhead electricity lines.

Concern is growing over fighting near the complex, the largest nuclear plant in Europe.

Radiation levels remained normal as a thermal power facility provided back-up electricity, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

An IAEA team is due to visit the site in the coming days. Reuters quoted Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko as saying the visit would take place no later than the beginning of September.

The facility was not the only place in Russian-occupied Ukraine to experience difficulties with its power supply.

The nearby town of Enerhodar, where many employees of the plant live, was "on the verge of a humanitarian disaster" after suffering a loss of power and water, its exiled mayor Dmytro Orlov said.

Meanwhile Russian media reported that Melitopol, Kherson and several other occupied cities had lost their energy supply, though this was later restored.

Moscow's version of rail station attack

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Image caption,
A man stands next to a car destroyed in the Chaplyne station attack

On Wednesday we reported a deadly Russian strike on a railway station at Chaplyne, in eastern Ukraine.

The latest casualty figures provided by the Ukrainian authorities are 25 dead including two boys aged six and 11, and 31 others injured.

Now Russia has given its version of events, saying an Iskander missile struck a military train carrying troops and armaments headed for the front line.

More than 200 Ukrainian service personnel were killed in the attack, it said, however the BBC has been unable to independently verify these reports.

Moscow denies targeting civilian infrastructure, but Ukraine has made no mention of military deaths in the strike.

Putin boosts Russian army

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Image caption,
Russia has been trying to modernise its army in recent years, including by increasing numbers of contract soldiers

As Russian troops make slow progress in their advance across Donbas and casualties in their ranks are reported in the tens of thousands, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to boost troop numbers.

He has signed a decree which could see an extra 137,000 personnel added to the country's armed forces from January next year.

Currently Russia has a limit of just over a million military personnel and almost 900,000 civilian staff.

The decree comes amid a recruitment drive around the country, and even at some prisons, with large cash incentives on offer.

But analysts from the UK Ministry of Defence say that popular enthusiasm in Russia for volunteer battalions is "very limited".

Eurovision star targeted over anti-war stance

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Manizha released an anti-war song shortly after the invasion

The last singer to represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest is being blacklisted because of her outspoken opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

Manizha Sangin, who finished ninth in the 2021 event, has been the victim of an organised campaign to cancel her performances, and many of her concerts this summer have been scrapped.

"She, her team and the promoters [have] received many threats", Sangin's spokesman Sergey Yakovlev told the BBC.

He said the campaign could have been organised by supporters of the war, or by people "who show intolerance towards Manizha's national origin".

Sangin is an ethnic Tajik from Dushanbe, and her fiancé is half-Ukrainian.

She has repeatedly spoken of her "despair" over Russia's invasion, and shortly after it began, she released the anti-war song Soldier.