UN chief calls for international access to Ukrainian nuclear power plant after new attack

  • Kyiv and Moscow blame the Zaporizhzhia plant
  • UN’s Guterres: Any attack on nuclear power plant is ‘suicidal’
  • Two Ukrainian grain ships leave ports, 12 since last week

Aug 8 (Reuters) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded on Monday that international inspectors be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after Ukraine and Russia swapped accusations over the bombing of the most largest atomic power station in Europe this weekend.

“Any attack (on) a nuclear power plant is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told a news conference in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima peace memorial ceremony on Saturday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing.

Russian forces captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex in southeastern Ukraine in early March, shortly after Moscow invaded its neighbor, but it is still run by Ukrainian technicians.

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Ukraine has blamed Russia for renewed bombardment on Saturday that damaged three radiation sensors and injured a factory worker in what was the second strike in consecutive days at the site.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a televised address on Sunday, said Russia was engaging in “nuclear terror” that warranted more international sanctions, this time against Moscow’s nuclear sector.

The Russian-installed authority in the area said Ukrainian forces hit the site with a multiple rocket launcher, damaging administrative buildings and an area near a storage facility.

The Russian Embassy in Washington also detailed the damage, saying artillery fire from “Ukrainian nationalists” damaged two high-voltage power lines and a water main, but that critical infrastructure was not repaired. affected.

Reuters could not verify either side’s version of what happened.

Events at the Zaporizhzhia site – where Kyiv alleged Russia hit a power line on Friday – have alarmed the world.

Guterres said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needed access to the plant. “We fully support the IAEA in all its efforts to create the conditions for the stabilization of the plant,” he said.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday that the latest attack “underscores the very real risk of nuclear catastrophe”.

CEREAL EXPORTS REBOOT STEAM

Elsewhere, a deal to unblock Ukraine’s food exports and ease global shortages gained momentum when two grain ships left Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Monday, bringing the total to 12 since the first vessel left A week ago. Read more

Four ships that left Ukraine on Sunday are expected to drop anchor near Istanbul on Monday evening, the Turkish Defense Ministry said, and will be inspected on Tuesday, as the first ship to sail since Russia’s February 24 invasion docked.

The last two outgoing vessels carried nearly 59,000 tons of corn and soybeans and were heading for Italy and southeastern Turkey after inspections. The four who left on Sunday were carrying nearly 170,000 tons of maize and other foodstuffs.

The July 22 grain export pact brokered by Turkey and the United Nations represents a rare diplomatic triumph as fighting continues in Ukraine and aims to help mitigate the spike in global food prices resulting from the war.

Prior to Moscow’s invasion, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for almost a third of world wheat exports. The disruptions since then have raised the specter of starvation in some parts of the world.

GRINDING BATTLE FOR THE DONBAS

Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unprovoked imperial-style war to regain control of a pro-Western neighbor lost in the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The conflict has displaced millions of people, killed thousands of civilians and left towns, villages and villages in ruins.

It turned into a war of attrition concentrated in eastern and southeastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are trying to take full control of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.

“Ukrainian soldiers firmly hold the defense, inflicting casualties on the enemy and are ready for any changes in the operational situation,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in an operational update on Monday.

Russian forces on Sunday intensified their attacks north and northwest of the Russian city of Donetsk in Donbass, the Ukrainian military said. He said the Russians attacked Ukrainian positions near the heavily fortified settlements of Piski and Avdiivka, as well as bombarded other places in Donetsk province.

In addition to tightening its grip on Donbass, Russia is strengthening its position in southern Ukraine, where it has gathered troops in an attempt to prevent a possible counteroffensive near Kherson, Kyiv said.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted a Russian-appointed official in the southeastern city of Kherson as saying on Monday that Ukrainian forces again shelled the Antonivskyi Bridge, damaging construction equipment and delaying its reopening.

The bridge is one of only two crossing points for Russian forces into the territory they occupied on the west bank of the main Dnipro River to the south.

It has been a key Ukrainian target in recent weeks, with Kyiv using US-supplied high-precision rockets to try to destroy it in preparation for a possible counterattack.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Stephen Coates and Mark Heinrich; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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