- Kyiv, Moscow business attributed success to Zaporizhzhia plant
- Any attack on nuclear power plant ‘suicide’: UN’s Guterres
- Russian-controlled plant usually operates – Moscow
- Two Ukrainian grain ships have been leaving 12 ports since last week
Aug 8 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for international inspectors to be allowed into the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant after Ukraine and Russia accused it of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear complex over the weekend.
“Any attack on a nuclear power plant is an act of suicide,” Guterres told a news conference in Japan, attending the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on Saturday to mark the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing.
Despite the shelling, the nuclear reactor complex was operating “normally,” Interfax news agency quoted Yevgeny Politsky, head of the Russian-founded local administration, as saying on Monday.
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Russian forces seized the plant in southeastern Ukraine in early March after Moscow invaded its neighbor on February 24, but it is still run by Ukrainian technicians.
Ukraine blamed Russia for renewed shelling in the area of the plant on Saturday that damaged three radiation sensors and injured a worker. This is the second damage to the plant in as many days, following a damaged power line.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a televised address on Sunday, accused Russia of waging “nuclear terrorism,” warranting greater international sanctions on Moscow’s vast nuclear industry.
The Russian-installed authority in the Zaporizhzhia region said Ukrainian forces attacked the base with multiple rocket launchers, damaging administrative buildings and a storage area.
The Russian embassy in Washington described the damage as Ukrainian artillery damaged two high-voltage power lines and a water pipe, but left critical infrastructure untouched.
Reuters could not verify either side’s version of what happened.
Ukraine has said it is planning a major counteroffensive in the Russian-occupied south, apparently centered on the western Zaporizhia city of Kherson, and has already retaken dozens of villages.
Armed clashes near a Soviet-era nuclear power plant have alarmed the world.
Guterres said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wanted access to the plant. “We fully support the IAEA in all its efforts to create the conditions to stabilize the plant,” he said.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday that the latest attack “underscores the real danger of a nuclear catastrophe”.
Grain exports pick up steam
Elsewhere, a deal to curb Ukraine’s food exports and ease global shortages came as two grain ships left Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Monday, bringing the total to 12 since the first one left a week ago. read more
Turkey’s defense ministry said four ships that left Ukraine on Sunday would anchor near Istanbul on Monday evening and be inspected on Tuesday, while the first ship to set sail since Russia’s February 24 invasion was stopped.
Two recent outbound ships carried nearly 59,000 tons of corn and soybeans and headed for Italy and southeast Turkey following the raids. The four departed on Sunday carrying nearly 170,000 tons of corn and other food.
A grain export deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations on July 22 represents a rare diplomatic victory as fighting rages in Ukraine and helps ease war-torn world food prices.
Before Moscow’s invasion, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports. The resulting disruption has raised fears of famine in some parts of the world.
Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain from silos and 40 million from the new harvest, the country’s economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said in July.
A grinding battle for Donbass
Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine to root out nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unprovoked imperialist-style war to reassert control over its pro-Western neighbor, lost when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
The conflict has displaced millions, killed thousands of civilians and left cities, towns and villages in ruins.
It has become a concentrated battleground in the east and south of Ukraine.
After the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have been trying to fully seize Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region from pro-Moscow separatists.
“Ukrainian soldiers are firmly holding the defense, inflicting casualties on the enemy and are ready for any changes in the operational situation,” Ukraine’s general staff said in an operational update on Monday.
Russian forces stepped up attacks in the Donbass north and northwest of the Russian-held city of Donetsk on Sunday, Ukraine’s military said. It said the Russians attacked Ukrainian positions near the heavily guarded settlements of Pisky and Avtivka, and shelled other locations in Donetsk province.
Russia is trying to consolidate its position in southern Ukraine, where it is building up forces in an attempt to prevent any counteroffensive near Kherson, Kiev said.
Interfax quoted a Russian-appointed official in Kherson as saying that Ukraine shelled the Antonievsky Bridge there on Monday, damaging construction equipment and delaying its reopening.
The bridge is one of two crossings to the area occupied by Russian forces on the west bank of the great Dnipro River in the south.
It has been a key Ukrainian target in recent weeks, with Kyiv attempting to destroy it in possible preparation for a counterattack using US-supplied high-precision rockets.
In the northeast, a Russian rocket attack on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killed one person and wounded another, regional governor Oleh Sinehupov wrote in a telegram.
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Report by Reuters Bureaus; Written by Stephen Coates and Mark Heinrich; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick MacPhee
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.