Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

“The world is on the brink of nuclear catastrophe”, says Zelenskyy

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during the Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022 .

Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the world is on the brink of a nuclear disaster as tensions mount around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“The world is on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe due to the occupation of the third largest nuclear power plant in the world at Energodar in the 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 for the global community to respond to Russia’s irresponsible actions and nuclear blackmail,” Zelenskyy added on Twitter.

—Amanda Macias

Explosions and fires reported at military sites in Russia and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine

Smoke rises and explosions erupt from a Russian ammunition depot in Dzhankoi on August 16, 2022.

Marie-Laure Messina | AFP | Getty Images

Explosions and fires have been reported at military installations in Russia and in territory it occupies in Ukraine, suggesting further sabotage attacks deep within enemy lines. Ukraine has not publicly taken responsibility for any of the incidents, and Russia so far does not acknowledge that its bases were attacked.

In the Russian province of Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, two villages had to be evacuated due to a fire in an ammunition depot. “An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo” about 30 miles from the Ukrainian border, but there were no casualties, a statement from regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

Several explosions were also reported in Crimea, the third such incident on the Russian-occupied peninsula in less than two weeks, near Russia’s Belbek airbase. Russian authorities say there was no damage or casualties. Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine is believed to be stepping up its counteroffensive 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 Zelensky has warned civilians to stay away from Russian military installations.

—Natasha Turak

Russia wants to disconnect Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from grid, says Ukraine, warning of ‘provocation’

Rescuers from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry take part in a drill 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 power grid, Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency Energoatom said, warning that Moscow was setting the stage for a “full-scale provocation”.

Russian forces have controlled the plant since March and it has been the scene of months of bombardment, prompting international leaders to sound the alarm over the risk of nuclear disaster.

“There are reports that the Russian occupation forces plan to close the power blocks and disconnect them from the power supply lines of 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 ignite after the generators have stopped in the absence of external power for the nuclear fuel cooling systems,” the statement said. .

Moscow, meanwhile, accused Kyiv of planning a “provocation” at the site, saying Ukraine was bombing its own nuclear facility in order to blame Russia. Ukrainian and Western officials warn that it is a sign that the Russian 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 of violating Finnish airspace, the Finnish Defense Ministry has announced.

“The depth of the alleged breach in Finnish airspace was one kilometer” over the town of Porvoo on Finland’s southern coast and lasted about two minutes, the ministry’s communications chief said, Kristian Vakkuri. Vakkuri added that a possible breach occurred at 6:40 a.m. GMT on Thursday, or 9:40 a.m. local time, and the planes were flying west.

The ministry did not say whether the planes were escorted.

Russian MiG-31 supersonic interceptor planes carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles fly over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018.

Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images

The Finnish Air Force has activated an “operational flight mission”, identifying the MiG planes, and its border guards have opened an investigation into the incident, the ministry added.

Finland and Russia share an 800-mile border, and Helsinki has warned of upcoming Russian provocations as the Nordic country awaits full approval of its decades-shattering NATO membership bid of its historically non-aligned position vis-à-vis Russia.

—Natasha Turak

Kharkiv is one of the most attacked Ukrainian cities, according to the United Kingdom

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is one of the most bombed cities in the country as it lies directly in Russia’s line of sight, the UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily update information on Twitter.

The front line in this area has not moved much since May, the ministry said, but “located about 15 km (9.3 miles) from the Russian front line, Kharkiv has suffered as it remains within range of most types of Russian artillery”. launchers and generally inaccurate area weapons wreaked havoc across large parts of the city.”

Rescue workers inspect the site of a destroyed hostel following a missile strike in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv on August 17, 2022.

Sergei Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Russian missile strikes on residential areas in Kharkiv on Wednesday killed at least 12 civilians, Ukrainian authorities said. Less than half of the city’s prewar population of 1.4 million still remains; the rest 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 counterattack 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 expected to meet at this year’s G-20 summit in Bali, according to a longtime adviser to the 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 adviser to Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Reuters.

All G-20 leaders have been invited including Putin, despite launching an unprovoked war against 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.

Nathalie Tam

State Department condemns ‘Russia’s reckless disregard for nuclear security’

US State Department spokesman Ned Price faces reporters during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, March 1, 2021.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

The United States reiterated its concerns over Russia’s military takeover and continued control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency must have access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible and in a manner that respects the full sovereignty of Ukraine to help ensure the safety and security of the plant and the monitoring of its nuclear materials,” the State Department spokesperson said. said Ned Price 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 in or around proximity to Ukrainian 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,’ says UN secretary-general

A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, 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.

Andrei Borodulin | AFP | Getty Images

UN 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 removed from the factory. Further deployment of forces or equipment to the site should be avoided,” he added.

Guterres urged all parties to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog, to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

—Amanda Macias

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