7 foreign ministers said they are “deeply concerned with the catastrophic humanitarian toll” from mounting Russian bombardment of civilians in Ukraine and will “hold accountable” those responsible for war crimes.
“We reemphasise that indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law. We will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians,” they said in a statement after meeting on Friday.
The ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and the US also urged Russia to stop attacks in the “vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants” as the world condemned the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant- Europe’s largest nuclear power station – during an attack on the southern city of Enerhodar.
The civilian death toll continues to mount in an escalation of shelling and air strikes by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Some 47 people were reportedly killed in Russian air strikes in the northern city of Chernihiv.
Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Before and after photos show Ukraine destruction
A school in Zhytomyr in the north was hit by a Russian rocket on Friday morning, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The city of Mariupol has no water and heating and food is scarce, its mayor said, appealing for military help after more shelling saying “we are simply being destroyed.”
Battles involving air strikes and artillery continued Friday northwest of Kyiv, and in the northeast, with the cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka coming under heavy strikes, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.
Earlier, it was revealed that no radiation was released from a Russian attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on Friday the building hit by a Russian “projectile” at the Zaporizhzhia plant was “not part of the reactor” but instead a training centre at the plant.
Nuclear officials from Sweden to China said no radiation spikes had been reported, as did Mr Grossi.
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Ukrainian officials have said Russian troops took control of the overall site, but the plant’s staff were continuing to ensure its operations.
Mr Grossi said the Ukrainians were in control of the reactor.
“The world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council, convened following the seizure of the plant.
“Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe,” she said.
With world condemnation mounting, the Kremlin cracked down on the flow of information at home, blocking Facebook and Twitter.
President Putin signed a law making it a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison to spread so-called “fake news”, including anything that goes against the official government line on the war.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson said the UK is “bolstering” its package of sanctions against the Kremlin with “new powers in our arsenal to go further and faster”,
Mr Johnson said the changes will “ramp up the pressure on those criminal elites trying to launder money on UK soil”, ensuring they have “nowhere to hide”.
It comes as the Government has been under pressure to speed up punitive action against people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.