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UN Nuclear Watchdog Returns To Zaporizhzhya Amid Escalating Security Concerns

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission led by the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, has arrived at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant for an inspection amid growing concerns about the safety of Europe's largest nuclear station following last week's breach at the Kakhovka dam downstream that reduced the supply of water the plant uses to keep its reactors from overheating.

Grossi's arrival, which was postponed by a day due to security concerns, was announced by Ukraine's nuclear energy company, Enerhoatom, on Telegram on June 15.

Grossi, who held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on June 13, has voiced concerns that the Russian-controlled nuclear plant was facing "a relatively dangerous situation" from both the dam burst and the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against invading Russian troops.

His arrival was announced hours after Russia launched another wave of air strikes on Zaporizhzhya's neighboring Dnipropetrovsk region that hit two industrial facilities in the city of Kryviy Rih, causing substantial damage and wounding one person.

Authorities declared an air-raid alert across Ukraine overnight that was lifted around 5 a.m. local time on June 15.

"A 38-year-old man was wounded. He is hospitalized in stable condition," Dnipropetrovsk Governor Serhiy Lysak said on Telegram.

Lysak said the strikes caused significant damage at the two facilities.

It was the third day in a row that Russia targeted the region. In the first such attack this month, 12 people were killed and 13 others, including three children, were wounded on June 13 by a Russian missile strike on a five-story apartment building in Kryviy Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Ukraine's air defense said on June 15 it had destroyed all 20 Iranian-made drones launched at Dnipropetrovsk, but three out of four Russian cruise missiles could not be intercepted and hit factories in Kryviy Rih.

Russia has stepped up its air attacks on Ukraine in recent weeks as Kyiv prepared to launch its long-awaited counteroffensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.

Zelenskiy last week acknowledged the operation was under way, with Moscow responding by ratcheting up its strikes with cruise missiles and drones targeting major cities across the country.

On the battlefield, fighting continued in and around Bakhmut, the city in the eastern Donetsk region that has been for months the scene of fierce battles.


The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in its morning report on June 15 that 49 close combat battles took place in Bakhmut and nearby Avdiyivka and Maryinka over the past 24 hours.

While information about the progress of Ukraine's counteroffensive remained scarce, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 15 that the military aid that NATO members have given Ukraine is showing its impact on the battlefield.

"The support NATO allies have been giving Ukraine now for many, many months actually makes a difference on the battlefield," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels ahead of a two-day meeting of the bloc's defense ministers that is also going to be attended by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.


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