A residential area in the city of Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, came under shelling from Russian forces on Thursday. Photo courtesy of State Emergency Service of Ukraine/EPA-EFE
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Moscow intensified its attack on the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Thursday morning with seven rockets that slammed into an apartment building, killing at least two, officials said.
Zaporizhzhia Gov. Oleksandr Starukh told residents to "stay in shelters" while the attack was underway. Two rockets also hit the central Ukrainian city of Khmelnytsky.
Russia also apparently used drones supplied by Iran to hit targets in the cities of Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Odessa. Ukrainian officials said they shot down 18 additional drones before they reached Odessa and Mykolaiv. The drones, which can stay in the air for hours, explode on impact after flying into their targets.
The attack comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Wednesday, ostensibly taking over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is Europe's largest nuclear power facility.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba argued that the Russian missile targets had no military value and were conducted to attack its civilian population.
"Russians keep deliberately striking civilians to sow fear," Kuleba said, according to CNN. "Russian terror must be stopped -- by force of weapons, sanctions and full isolation."
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he will visit Kyiv on Thursday to continue talks about creating a nuclear safety zone at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Nuclear experts have feared that fighting around the plant would lead to a nuclear disaster if the facility is intentionally or unintentionally struck. Grossi said he would make a trip to Russia as well to express his continued concerns over the plant, which has been under Russian control since March.
Ukrainian technicians have continued to operate the plant, despite being surrounded by Russian soldiers, and over the weekend Russian military forces abducted the head of the Zaporizhzhia plant. He was ultimately released on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that its military has increased its area control in the Kherson region by up to 12 miles, recapturing the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka as Putin has sought to annex Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.
Kherson's Moscow-appointed governor, Kirill Stremousov, conceded the loss, but said it was tactical for "regrouping" to "deliver a retaliatory blow."