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RUSSIAN troops are firing ­missiles and artillery rounds from Europe’s largest nuclear power station — because they know Ukraine ­cannot shoot back without risking a ­Chernobyl-style disaster.

Moscow has repeatedly denied launching strikes from the captured plant which the UN’s atomic energy chief has warned is now “completely out of control”.

4Russian soldiers are patrolling the Zaporizhzhia power station - where troops are firing ­missiles and artillery rounds because they know Ukraine ­cannot shoot backCredit: Reuters 4Drone footage of military convoys entering the site — where they are believed to have been delivering weapons and ammunition 4ladimir Putin is said to be risking a Chernobyl-style disasterCredit: AFP

But The Sun has obtained exclusive drone footage of military convoys marked with Mad Vlad Putin’s Z war emblem entering the site — where they are believed to have been delivering weapons and ammunition.

British spooks have said heavy artillery has been in use “adjacent to Zaporizhzhia power station” to blast targets across the River Dnieper in southern Ukraine.

Exhausted Russian soldiers have also been using a nearby town for rest and recuperation because its closeness to the power station protects them from attack.

In our footage taken on Monday at the plant, military trucks are seen driving in and stopping between power units.

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Some then enter an engine room through a cargo gate, one at a time. Experts who viewed the footage say it is highly likely they are unloading weapons and ammunition.

Russia seized the plant in March and explosions at the time raised fears of a disaster of a similar scale to the 1986 Chernobyl accident which sent clouds of deadly radioactive material over Europe.

The United Nations has urged Russia and Ukraine to allow experts to visit the complex. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the situation is getting more alarming daily. Grossi called the current situation “extremely grave and dangerous”. 

He said: “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated . . . in a place where active war is ongoing.

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“I have been insisting from day one that we have to be able to go there to perform safety and security evaluation, to do repairs and assist as we already did in Chernobyl.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called Russia’s actions around the plant “the height of irresponsibility” and accused Moscow of using it as a “nuclear shield”.

He said: “Of course the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant.”

Russia said: “We repeatedly stated that actions of our armed forces in no way undermine Ukraine’s nuclear security or impede routine operation of the plant.”

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It comes as Ukraine’s President Volodymr Zelensky blasted Amnesty International for accusing his troops of violating humanitarian law by establishing bases in residential areas and so “endangering civilians”.

Ukraine MP Inna Sovsun added: “Yes, Ukrainian military is in populated areas. Because Russia is attacking populated areas.”


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Tiny African kingdom has skiing as Europe sweats summer heat

BUTHA-BUTHE, Lesotho (AP) — While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, they’re skiing in Africa.

Don’t worry. This isn’t another sign of climate change but rather the fascinating anomaly of Lesotho, a tiny mountain kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has an obscure geographical claim to fame: It’s the only country on Earth where every inch of its territory sits more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level.

That gives Lesotho snow in the southern hemiphere’s winters. And while cold winters aren’t rare in southern Africa, snow is and ski resorts are even rarer. At an altitude of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet), Afriski in Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains is Africa’s only operating ski resort south of the equator.

“I’ve never seen snow in my life,” said Kafi Mojapelo, who traveled the short distance from South Africa for a skiing vacation she never thought she’d take. “So, this is a great experience.”

Bafana Nadida, who comes from the sprawling urban township of Soweto in Johannesburg, was delighted with putting ski boots on for the first time. He planned a day of ski lessons, taking pictures and just playing about in the snow.

Skiers and snowboarders lined up to rent the proper gear. Some were given pointers by Hope Ramokotjo, who is from Lesotho and has worked as a self-taught ski and snowboard instructor for 12 years. His wide smile and deep, reassuring voice puts beginners at ease.

“Push your heals out. Don’t pull your shoulders,” Ramokotjo called out to his class of keen yet inexperienced African skiers as they wobbled along on the snow. “Here you go! Nice!”

Afriski’s Kapoko Snow Park is the only freestyle snow park on the continent. Competitors lined up last month for the annual Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition. Sekholo Ramonotsi, a 13-year-old from the Lesotho city of Butha-Buthe who practices regularly at Afriski, won the junior snowboard and ski divisions.

“I would really like to ski in Europe,” he said.

London-born Meka Lebohang Ejindu said he has taught skiing and snowboarding in Austria for more than a decade and this is his first season in the southern hemisphere. He has family roots in Lesotho.

“For a competition like this to happen in southern Africa is so heartwarming,” he said.

Afriski may not be at the level of Europe’s vast Alpine resorts but a love of winter sports is catching.

At Afriski’s Sky Restaurant and Gondola Cafe, happy hour starts at 10 a.m. and skiers and boarders show off their winter fashions and party to house music, beers in hand. Some claim the bar is the highest in Africa, although that’s challenged by the Sani Mountain Lodge, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the east on the Lesotho-South Africa border.

What no one can dispute is this crowd went skiing in Africa.

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