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

  • Kyiv and Moscow are responsible for visits to the Zaporizhzhia site
  • UN’s Guterres says any attack on nuclear power plant is ‘suicidal’
  • Four ships carrying Ukrainian food leave Black Sea ports

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 first bombing. atomic in the world.

Ukraine said renewed Russian shelling on Saturday damaged three radiation sensors and injured a worker at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the second hit in consecutive days at the site.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of waging “nuclear terror” that warranted more international sanctions, this time on Moscow’s nuclear sector.

“There is no such nation in the world that can feel safe when a terrorist state fires on a nuclear power plant,” Zelenskiy said in a televised address on Sunday.

Russian forces captured the factory in southeastern Ukraine in early March, but it is still run by Ukrainian technicians.

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 released a statement detailing the damage.

“Ukrainian nationalists launched an artillery strike on the territory of the specified object on August 5. Two high-voltage power lines and a water pipe were damaged as a result of the shelling. It is only thanks to the effective and timely actions of the Russian military in covering the nuclear power plant, its critical infrastructure was not affected,” the embassy said.

Reuters could not verify either party’s version.

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,” said António Guterres.

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

Elsewhere, a deal to unblock Ukraine’s food exports and ease global shortages gained momentum as four more ships sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports while the first cargo ship since Russia’s February 24 invasion docked. Read more

The four outgoing ships had nearly 170,000 tons of corn and other foodstuffs. They were sailing under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to try to help ease the spike in global food prices resulting from the war.

Prior to the Feb. 24 invasion of Moscow, which Russian President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation,” Russia and Ukraine together accounted for almost a third of global wheat exports. Disruptions since then have threatened starvation in parts of the world.

BATTLE FOR THE DONBAS

Putin’s troops are trying to take full control of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea from 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 update on Monday.

Russian forces on Sunday intensified their attacks north and northwest of the city of Donetsk in Donbass, the Ukrainian army said. The Russians attacked Ukrainian positions near the heavily fortified settlements of Piski and Avdiivka, as well as shelled other places in the Donetsk region, he added.

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

As the fighting rages, the Russians settled after the invasion of Moscow have toyed with the idea of ​​joining the territory occupied by Ukraine to Russia. Last month, a senior pro-Russian official said a referendum on such a decision was likely “around next year”. Read more

Zelenskiy said any “pseudo-referendum” on occupied areas of his country joining Russia would eliminate the possibility of talks between Moscow and its Ukrainian counterparts or their allies.

“They will close for themselves any change of talks with Ukraine and the free world which the Russian side will clearly need at some point,” he said. Read more

Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor said on Sunday that nearly 26,000 alleged war crimes committed since the invasion were being investigated, with 135 people charged, 15 of whom were in custody. Russia denies targeting civilians. Read more

Shell and missile fire was reported overnight in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and around military sites in the western Vinnitsya region, among other places, Ukrainian authorities said. There was no word on the casualties.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Stephen Coates; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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