Russia is gradually reducing the number of personnel at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Ukraine's military intelligence agency says.
- Ukraine's GUR MO intelligence agency says Russians stationed at Zaporizhzhia's nuclear power plant have begun to leave
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is boosting the military presence in Ukraine's north after the Wagner Group's arrival in Belarus
- Poland detained a Russian ice-hockey player on spying charges, accusing him of acting "under the guise of an athlete" while identifying critical infrastructure
The agency did not say why some people had left, and Reuters could not independently verify the information.
Russia, which has occupied the plant since March 2022, did not immediately comment on the assertion, however Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier described as "pure lies" accusations from Ukraine that Russia was planning to blow up the power station.
"According to the latest data, the occupation contingent is gradually leaving the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence (GUR MO) said on Telegram on Friday.
GUR MO said that among the first to leave the nuclear power station were three employees of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, who had been "in charge of the Russians' activities".
It said Ukrainian employees who had signed a contract with Rosatom had also been advised to depart.
Employees should leave by July 5, it said, and preferably head for the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
GUR MO said the number of military patrols was also gradually decreasing on the plant's vast territory and in the nearby city of Enerhodar, and personnel remaining at the plant had been told to blame Ukraine "in case of any emergency situations".
Ukraine conducted nuclear disaster response drills on Thursday in the vicinity of the plant.
Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of shelling the vast complex at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Europe's largest.
Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, suffered the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Donetsk school hit by Russian missile
A Russian missile attack on Friday on a village school near the frontline in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region killed two women, including a teacher, and injured six, Ukrainian police said.
The 56-year-old primary school teacher and a chief accountant, 44, died in the strike on the village of Serhiivka, Ukrainian police said.
Twelve employees were the building's only occupants, the prosecutor's office said. Ukrainian schools were not in session for students on Friday.
"Russian troops, in a direct hit, destroyed a school where civilians were located," Ukraine's national police said in a statement.
The Donetsk region prosecutor's office said four men aged 54 to 69 and two women aged 24 and 34 were injured and taken to hospital, and that it had launched an investigation into the attack.
Reuters was unable immediately to verify details of the attack.
Groups of men, some in civilian clothing, others emergency workers in helmets, and uniformed police, walked atop the ruins, searching for survivors.
The police said paramedics helped rescue two women from the rubble and that occupying Russian forces were responsible for the attack, which was preliminarily assessed to have been caused by an Iskander missile.
Zelenskyy strengthens forces in Ukraine's north due to Wagner presence
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered his top military commanders on Friday to strengthen Ukraine's northern military sector, following the arrival of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in Belarus.
Government and military leaders had received a report from Ukrainian intelligence and security forces on the situation, he said.
Belarus, Ukraine's northern neighbour, is strongly allied with Vladimir Putin's Russia, and satellite images of a military base south-east of the capital, Minsk, show new facilities built in recent days.
Ukraine's troops were given a boost of morale last week by the armed rebellion of Mr Prigozhin's Wagner Group in Russia, which posed the most significant threat to Mr Putin's grip on power in more than two decades.Loading...
The short-lived revolt was a major distraction for Russia's military and political leaders, but experts say the impact on the Ukrainian front line in the country's south and east is likely to be minimal.
For the past four days, Ukraine has stepped up operations around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Wagner forces seized after months of intense fighting and then handed over to Russian soldiers, who continue to lose ground on their southern flank.
Along the rest of the front line, however, the strength of the Russian military remains unchanged since the revolt.
It is not clear where Ukraine will attempt to decisively punch through Russia's main defences, but any success will rely on newly formed, Western-equipped brigades that are not yet deployed.
Military experts say it is hard to say who has the advantage: Russia is dug in with manpower and ammunition, while Ukraine is versatile, equipped with modern weaponry and clever on the battlefield.
For now, Russia's deeply fortified positions and relative air superiority are slowing Ukraine's advance. And with the autumn muddy season only four months away, some Ukrainian commanders say they are racing against time.
Poland arrests Russian ice-hockey player on spying charges
Poland has detained a Russian ice-hockey player on spying charges, prosecutors said on Friday, describing him as the 14th person that had been arrested from one espionage network.
The player for a first-division Polish team was taken into custody in the southern region of Silesia, prosecutors said. The player and his team were not publicly identified, but prosecutors said he had arrived in Poland in October 2021.
A key hub for Western military supplies to Ukraine, Poland says it has become a major target for Russian spies and it accuses Moscow of trying to destabilise the country.
"Russian spies are falling in one by one!" Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro wrote on Twitter.
According to prosecutors, he carried out activities including identifying critical infrastructure, for which he received payment. He will be kept in pre-trial detention and could face up to 10 years in prison.
The Russian embassy in Warsaw said by email that it "does not comment on such topics".