- Technicians shut down the reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant
- Three grain ships leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports
- Turkey’s Erdogan meets Putin in Russia
- Battles in the east center around a fortified village
KYIV, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Shelling hit a high-voltage power line at a major Ukrainian nuclear power plant captured by Russia on Friday, prompting the plant’s operators to shut down a reactor despite no radioactive leak being detected.
Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom blamed Russia for the damage to the Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe’s largest. Earlier this week, the UN nuclear watchdog appealed for access to the facility, which Washington says Russia uses as a battlefield shield. Read more
Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the facility, which was captured by Russian forces in early March at the start of the war, and said a leak of radiation had only been avoided by luck.
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It said that as a result the production capacity of one unit had been reduced and power supply to another had been interrupted. In addition, the nearby town of Enerhodar had power and water supply problems, the ministry said in a statement.
It was not the first time that military action has caused alarm in Zaporizhzhia, where the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency had reported at times losing contact with monitoring systems that keep track of nuclear material.
The Russian-installed administration of Enerhodar said in a statement that the fire had broken out and that the power needed for the safe operation of the reactors had been cut off. The facility continues to be operated by its Ukrainian technicians.
Energoatom said the plant, about 200 km (160 miles) northwest of the Russian-held port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, was still operating and no radioactive emissions had been detected.
A decision had been made to disconnect one reactor from the network due to damage to a 330 kilowatt high voltage line connecting the plant to the thermal power station.
Further east, both sides claimed little progress while Russian artillery bombarded towns and villages over a wide area in a now familiar tactic.
USA WEAPONS PACK
The next arms package to Ukraine from the United States was expected to be worth $1 billion, one of the largest so far, three sources told Reuters. Read more
If signed in its current form, it would include ammunition for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles, the sources said.
The package is expected to be announced as early as Monday and will add to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion.
In other developments, three grain ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday and the first inbound cargo ship since the Russian invasion was due to load in Ukraine, marking further steps in the Kyiv government’s efforts to revive its economy after five months of war.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who is playing a role as a mediator in the war, in the Russian city of Sochi.
“The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia,” said Fahrettin Altun, a top aide to Erdogan.
Turkey helped negotiate the deal, which on Monday saw the first grain ship leave a Ukrainian port for foreign markets since the invasion.
On Friday, two grain ships departed from Chornomorsk and one from Odesa with a total of around 58,000 tons of corn, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
The Liberian-flagged Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S was expected to arrive in Chornomorsk on Friday to load up with grain, Odesa’s regional administration said.
Russia and Ukraine normally produce about a third of the world’s wheat, and the United Nations had warned that halting grain shipments through the Russian-dominated Black Sea could lead to famine in other countries, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
“We expect that the security guarantees of our partners from the UN and Turkey will continue to work, and food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market participants,” said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
Ukraine’s seaport authority said Monday that 68 ships were docked in Ukrainian ports with 1.2 million tons of cargo on board, two-thirds of it food.
BATTLE FOR PRINCES
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in what Putin called a “special military operation”, the conflict has descended into a war of attrition, fought largely in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Moscow is trying to gain control of the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.
Russian news agency TASS on Friday quoted separatist forces as saying they and Russian troops had taken full control of Pisky in the Donetsk region, a fortified village held by Ukrainian troops and close to Donetsk city, which is in the hands of Russian -supported separatist forces.
But Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said: “There is very little evidence of any movement here. They (the Russians) made an attempt to advance but it was unsuccessful.”
Ukraine has turned the village into a stronghold, seeing it as a buffer against Russian-backed forces that hold Donetsk city about 10 km to the southeast.
TASS also said fighting was taking place in the town of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk and Russia’s next main target.
Arestovych said Ukrainian forces had recaptured two villages near Izyum in the Kharkiv region, which borders Russia, and were moving toward a third.
Reuters could not confirm either side’s claims about developments on the battlefield.
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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Written by Nick Macfie, Angus MacSwan and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool
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