By Stefan J. Bos — Záhony, Hungary
Women and children are among the many desperate refugees arriving here at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. More are expected as Ukrainian authorities say several people have been killed and injured when the fire broke out at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following a Russian attack.
The fire has since been extinguished, and officials say the site is safe. Yet, the West has condemned Russia for what it views as a “horrific” and “reckless” act. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the attack could have caused the equivalent of “six Chernobyls,” referencing the world’s worst nuclear disaster, which occurred in Soviet Ukraine in 1986.
Additionally, the NATO military alliance secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, has accused Russia of violating the convention banning cluster bombs, which came into force in 2010. “We have seen the use of cluster bombs, and we have seen reports of the use of other types of weapons which would be in violation of international law,” he told reporters in Brussels. “And of course, NATO and NATO allies and partners are collecting information and monitoring very closely what is going in Ukraine. So I welcome the decision by the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into this. Because we have to make sure that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the president of Belarus [Alexander Lukashenko] are held accountable for what they do.”
Stoltenberg continued, “This is brutality, this is inhumane, and this is violating international law. And we also have to make sure that the International Criminal Court really looks into this.”
Praying for Ukraine and refugees
The attacks underscore concerns among refugees about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Many people have come to Záhony at the Hungarian, Ukrainian border. Church volunteers, including Péter Kiss, are trying to provide spiritual and practical support. “We provide food and drinks such as water to the people. There is so much uncertainty among those who flee. You can see it in their eyes. I hope this war will be over soon,” said Péter Kiss of the Budapest-based Faith Church, a Pentecostal congregation. “We pray every day for Ukraine and the refugees,” he stressed.
His words come as scores of people have been killed since Thursday by Russian airstrikes in Ukraine’s northern city of Chernihiv.
Despite the heavy fighting, authorities say Russia’s estimated 200,000 troops involved in the offensive only managed to seize one city so far, Kherson in southern Ukraine.
Moscow invaded Ukraine on three fronts, the north, east, and south. The fighting continues as Europe’s worst conflict since World War Two rapidly escalates. That has added to international concerns that many more people will flee the troubled nation. The United Nations says more than a million people have fled Ukraine so far, and many more refugees and displaced persons are expected.