‘World is on verge of nuclear disaster,’ Zelenskyy says
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the world is on the verge of a nuclear disaster as tensions mount over the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“The world is on a verge of nuclear disaster due to occupation of world’s third largest nuclear power plant in Energodar, Zaporizhzhia region,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Russian forces took control of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, shortly after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“How long will it take the global community to respond to Russia’s irresponsible actions and nuclear blackmailing,” Zelenskyy added on Twitter.
— Amanda Macias
Explosions and fires reported at military sites in Russia and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine
Smoke billows and explosions erupt from a Russian munitions depot in Dzhankoi on August 16, 2022.
Marie-laure Messana | AFP | Getty Images
Explosions and fires have been reported at military facilities in Russia and the territory it occupies in Ukraine, suggesting more sabotage attacks far into enemy lines. Ukraine has not publicly taken responsibility for any of the incidents, and Russia so far does not acknowledge that its bases have been attacked.
In Russia’s Belgorod province near the Ukrainian border, two villages had to be evacuated due to a fire at an ammunition depot. “An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo” some 30 miles from Ukraine’s border, but there were no casualties, a statement by regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.
Several explosions were also reported in Crimea, the third such incident in the Russian-occupied peninsula in less than two weeks, near Russia’s Belbek airbase. Russian authorities there say there was no damage and no casualties. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine is believed to be ramping up its counter-offensive in the south, which is heavily occupied by Russian forces. The strategy involves blowing up supply routes, vital bridges and military sites used by Russia to supply its forces in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned civilians to stay away from Russian military facilities.
— Natasha Turak
Russia wants to disconnect Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant from grid, Ukraine says, warning of ‘provocation’
Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in case of a possible nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant located near the city.
Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images
Russia wants to disconnect Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest in Europe — from the electricity grid, Ukrainian nuclear energy agency Energoatom said, warning that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a “large-scale provocation.”
Russian forces have controlled the plant since March and it’s been the site of months of shelling, prompting international leaders to sound the alarm over risks of a nuclear catastrophe.
“There is information that the Russian occupation forces are planning to shut down the power blocks and disconnect them from the power supply lines to the Ukrainian power system in the near future,” Energoatom said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
“The Russian military is currently looking for fuel suppliers for the diesel generators, which are supposed to turn on after the power units are shut down in the absence of an external power supply for the nuclear fuel cooling systems,” the statement said.
Moscow, meanwhile, accused Kyiv of planning a “provocation” at the site, saying Ukraine is shelling at its own nuclear facility in order to blame Russia. Ukrainian and Western officials warn that is a sign Russia’s military could be preparing for a “false-flag attack”.
— Natasha Turak
Finland says Russian MiG fighter jets may have violated its airspace
Two Russian MiG-31 fighter jets are suspected to have violated Finnish airspace, Finland’s Defense Ministry said.
“The depth of the suspected violation into Finnish airspace was one kilometer” over the city of Porvoo on Finland’s southern coast and lasted about two minutes, the ministry’s head of communications Kristian Vakkuri said. Vakkuri added that possible violation happened at 6:40 a.m. GMT on Thursday, or 9:40 a.m. local time, and the jets were flying westward.
The ministry did not say whether the planes were escorted out.
Russia’s MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jets carrying hypersonic Kinzhal missiles fly over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018.
Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images
Finland’s air force activated an “operational flight mission,” identifying the MiG jets, and its Border Guard has opened an investigation into the incident, the ministry added.
Finland and Russia share an 800 mile border, and Helsinki has warned of Russian provocations to come as the Nordic country awaits full approval of its NATO membership bid, which upends decades of its historically nonaligned position vis-a-vis Russia.
— Natasha Turak
Kharkiv is one of Ukraine’s most consistently attacked cities, UK says
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is one of the most consistently shelled cities in the country because it’s directly in Russia’s line of fire, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.
The front line in this area has not moved much since May, the ministry said, but “sitting around 15 km (9.3 miles) from the Russian front line, Kharkiv has suffered because it remains within range of most types of Russian artillery. Multiple rocket launchers and generally inaccurate area weapons have caused devastation across large parts of the city.”
Rescue workers inspect the site of a destroyed hostel as a result of a missile strike in the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Aug. 17, 2022.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
On Wednesday, Russian missile strikes on residential areas of Kharkiv killed at least 12 civilians, Ukrainian authorities said. Less than half of the city’s pre-war population of 1.4 million people still remain; the rest have fled to other countries or other parts of Ukraine.
Russian forces “are probably trying to force Ukraine to maintain significant forces on this front, to prevent them from being employed as a counter-attack force elsewhere,” the ministry wrote.
— Natasha Turak
Xi and Putin set to meet at this year’s G-20 summit
This photo captures Putin’s visit to Beijing in early February 2022. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are reportedly set to meet at this year’s G-20 summit taking place in Bali, according to a longtime adviser to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Alexei Druzhinin | AFP | Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to attend this year’s G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, a longtime advisor to Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Reuters.
All G-20 leaders were invited including Putin, despite launching an unprovoked war on Ukraine. Western countries have since called on Indonesia to withdraw its invitation to Putin.
Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the summit.
— Natalie Tham
State Department condemns ‘Russia’s reckless disregard for nuclear safety’
U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price faces reporters during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington, March 1, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
The U.S. reiterated concerns regarding Russia’s military takeover and continued control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency must be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible and in a manner that respects Ukraine’s full sovereignty to help ensure the safety and security of the plant and monitoring of its nuclear material,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a daily press briefing.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s reckless disregard for nuclear safety and security,” Price said, adding that Washington and its allies “call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.”
Price also urged Russia to allow IAEA inspectors access to the nuclear power plant facility.
Russian forces took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant shortly after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
— Amanda Macias
‘Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,’ U.N. Secretary General says
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, seized by Russian forces in March, is in southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.
Andrey Borodulin | Afp | Getty Images
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant should be demilitarized immediately.
Guterres, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said “any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide.”
“Military equipment and personnel should be withdrawn from the plant. Further deployment of forces or equipment to the site must be avoided,” he added.
Guterres urged all parties to approve the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog, to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
— Amanda Macias
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