Kyiv and Moscow continue to trade accusations about the dangers of fighting near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, Europe's largest.
Ukraine's president has renewed calls for European Union members to ban visas for Russian citizens, and a Russian diplomat warned that any U.S. move to declare Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" could result in a complete break in ties.
Kyiv and Moscow, meanwhile, continued to trade accusations about the dangers of fighting near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, which the United Nations says should have a demilitarized zone declared around it.
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The facility has been under Russian control since shortly after the February 24 invasion. Ukrainian engineers are operating the facility under Russian supervision.
Western countries have called for Moscow to withdraw its forces from the plant. "The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on August 12. With the focus of fighting shifting away from the eastern Donbas region to Ukraine's southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine's military said it struck a fourth bridge spanning the Dnieper River.
British military intelligence said in its daily assessment on August 13 that this further crimped Russia's ability to resupply forces on the river's northwest, or right, bank. Ukraine's commanders also said warplanes attacked five Russian weapons and equipment stashes in the Mykolayiv and Kherson regions. Dmytro Pletenchuk, a press spokesman for the Mykolayiv military administration, said Russian forces were suffering from an ammunition shortage, due mainly to Ukrainian forces hitting depots.
"Now the situation has changed. There is a shortage of ammunition among the Russians. And that is very good. We feel the result of the work on their warehouses -- it has become a little quieter in Mykolayiv, but the region is being shelled," he said. Still, fighting continue in pockets around the Donbas. Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said on August 13 that five civilians had been killed in the region by Russian shelling over the past 24 hours.
In his nightly video address on August 12, Zelenskiy repeated his call for an EU visa ban on Russian citizens, saying it was necessary to keep the bloc from becoming a "supermarket" open to anyone with the means to enter.
"There must be guarantees that Russian killers or accomplices of state terror not use Schengen visas," he said, referring to a type of visa that grants people access to the border-free Schengen area that spans 22 of the EU's 27 member states. Some EU countries, including the three Baltic states and the Czech Republic, have already moved to limit travel and work visas for Russians, and the Czech foreign minister, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, has backed calls for a bloc-wide ban. The effort, however, has gained little traction so far among other EU members.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official told the state news agency TASS that diplomatic ties with Washington would be badly damaged and could even be broken off if Russia was declared a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the U.S. Senate.
Aleksandr Darchiyev, head of the ministry's North American department, said if the U.S. Senate went through with plans to single out Russia, this would mean Washington had crossed the point of no return It would cause "the most serious collateral damage for bilateral diplomatic relations, to the point of downgrading and even breaking them off," he was quoted as saying.