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Ukraine nuclear plant loses power lines, Moscow makes Europe sweat for gas

United Nations vehicles carrying members of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection mission on a road outside the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine on September 1, 2022.

Genya Savilov | Afp | beautiful pictures

UN inspectors said on Saturday that a nuclear power plant on the frontline of the Ukraine war lost power again from outside, raising fears of a disaster while Moscow shut down a pipeline. main gas to Germany to hurt the economies of Kyiv’s friends in the West.

The Zaporizhzhia plant has been cut off the last remaining main external power line, although a reserve line continues to supply power to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

Only one of the station’s six reactors is operational, the agency said in a statement.

The factory, seized by Russian troops shortly after their 24 February invasion, became the focal point of the conflict, with each side blaming the other for the nearby shelling.

The standoff over Russia’s oil and gas exports increased last week as Moscow announced it would close its main gas pipeline to Germany and the G7 countries announced a tentative price ceiling. ​for Russian oil exports.

The energy war is the aftermath of President Vladimir Putin’s six-month invasion of Ukraine, underscoring the deepening rift between Moscow and Western nations as Europe trains itself in the cold months ahead. next.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy blow to all Europeans for this winter,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly speech on Saturday, citing the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. continue to be closed.

Zelenskiy blamed Russian shelling for the August 25 power cut, the first Zaporizhzhia was cut off from the national grid, which avoided a radioactive leak. That outage resulted in power cuts across Ukraine, although emergency generators were working for critical cooling processes.

Moscow cites Western sanctions and technical problems over energy disruptions, while European countries accuse Russia of weaponizing supplies as part of a military invasion. their.

Nuclear concerns

Kyiv and Moscow have made accusations of attacks on the Zaporizhzhia factory, which is still run by Ukrainian employees.

An IAEA mission toured the plant on Thursday, and several experts remain there pending the release of the report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the coming days.

The remaining inspectors noted one reactor was still producing electricity “for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site and for homes, factories and others through the grid. “, the IAEA said on Saturday.

The plant said in a statement that the fifth reactor was shut down “due to the constant shelling of the Russian occupation forces” and “insufficient capacity from the last reserve line to operate operate two reactors.”

Deteriorating conditions amid the shelling have raised fears of a radiation disaster that the International Red Cross says will trigger a major humanitarian crisis.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of storing heavy weapons at the site to discourage Ukraine from firing. Russia, which denies the presence of any such weapons there, has resisted international calls to move troops and demilitarize the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of making an unsuccessful attempt to capture the plant. Reuters could not verify the report.

Turkey on Saturday also offered to facilitate the situation.

Gas and oil

Announcing that it would not carry out a plan to restart gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, one of Russia’s main supply lines to Europe, state-controlled energy group Gazprom dumped error for technical error.

Gazprom said on Saturday that Germany’s Siemens Energy was ready to help repair damaged equipment but was nowhere available to do the work.

Siemens said it has not been commissioned to perform maintenance work on the pipeline, but it is available.

The indefinite delay to restart Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and other countries, deepens Europe’s problem of securing fuel for the winter as energy prices rise. leading to an increase in the cost of living.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven rich democracies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – said on Friday that Russia’s oil price cap was aimed at reducing “the possibility of Russia financed its war of aggression while limiting its impact on global energy prices”.

The Kremlin has said it will stop selling oil to any country that applies the cap. Russia called the invasion of the neighboring country “a special military operation.”

Kyiv and the West see this as a gratuitous war of aggression against a former part of the Soviet Union.

The United States and other countries have pledged new military aid to Kyiv to fend off an invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Ukraine launched a counter-offensive last week targeting the south, especially the Kherson area, occupied by the Russians early in the conflict.

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