The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power in southeast Ukraine amid shelling by Russian forces, March 4, 2022
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Sunday’s Coverage: “Risk of Radiation Leaks” at Russian-Occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 2111 GMT:
In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said of the counter-offensive in the south:
I won’t give any specifics, but we will drive the invaders to the border.
Zelenskiy urged Russian soldiers to go home or surrender, otherwise “they will deal with our defenders, who will not stop until they liberate everything that belongs to Ukraine.”
UPDATE 2058 GMT:
A source in the Ukraine military said the villages of Novodmytrivka, Arkhanhelske, Tomyna Balka, and Pravdyne have been liberated in the counter-offensive in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
“The operation began at night with massive shelling of Russian positions and the rear,” the source told CNN. “The main direction of the attack was on Pravdyne. We hit their infantry from the DNR and LNR [the Russian proxies “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”], and they fled. The Russian landing force fled after them.”
The source added, “Their first line of defense has been broken through in three places. Many of them were killed and captured, and a lot of military vehicles [were destroyed].”
“We’ll see how it goes from here. Our target is Kherson [city],” the source explained.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said:
[The offensive has] already had an impact on Russian military capabilities.
Because the Russians have had to pull resources from the east simply because of reports that the Ukrainians might be going more on the offense in the south. And so they’ve had to deplete certain units …in certain areas in the East in the Donbass, to respond to what they clearly believed was a looming threat of a counter offensive.
UPDATE 1715 GMT:
Ukrainian military bloggers are reporting immediate success in the counter-offensive launched in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine today.
For operational security, the Ukrainian General Staff is asking bloggers to refrain from posting.
The Chief of General Staff has asked all bloggers and influencers to "shut up" so you're unlikely would hear any definitive news until at least tomorrow. And tomorrow you definitely wouldn’t hear that Kherson is surrounded or liberated. And that’s totally ok.
— Volodymyr Demchenko (@brokenpixelua) August 29, 2022
However, initial reports indicate that Ukrainian forces broke through the Russian frontline and advanced 10-15 km (6-9 miles) establishing a strategic bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Ingulets River, the tributary of the Dnipro River.
Russia’s pontoon bridge across the Dnipro River — vital for maintaining a link between forces to the west and to the east after damage to all main bridges — has been destroyed.
In another sign of a successful Ukrainian attack, Russian media are trying to cover up a retreats: “The Russian Federation’s troops have made a successful maneuver and are conducting active offensive actions towards Crimea” — i.e, away from the frontline north of Kherson city.
UPDATE 1652 GMT:
A Ukrainian politician who collaborated with Russian occupiers in southern Ukraine has been shot and killed in his home.
Oleksiy Kovaliov, who was in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party, was slain on Sunday. He had cooperated with Russian troops when they seized the Kherson region.
Kovaliov was blown up in his car on June 22 but survived the attack.
That month, Kovalev met Sergei Kirienko, the Kremlin official in charge of Russia’s occupation, and said, “Russia is here for real and for good.”
Oleksiy Kovalev, a former MP in Zelensky's party who collaborated with Russia's occupation of Kherson, was shot dead at home in Khereson alongside his girlfriend last night, Russian investigators say.
Kovalev was in charge of grain, which Ukraine accuses Russia of looting. pic.twitter.com/1fZAp6qYbK
— max seddon (@maxseddon) August 29, 2022
UPDATE 1505 GMT:
Computer accessories giant Logitech International is joining the exodus from Russia because of the “ongoing uncertain environment”.
The firm stopped shipments to Russia in March. It said on Monday, “We have monitored the situation closely and regrettably, the circumstances do not allow for us to continue to do business as before.”
UPDATE 1502 GMT:
Two civilians have been killed and 24 wounded by 12 Russian missiles fired on private homes in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine.
Governor Vitaliy Kim wrote on Telegram, “The center of the city is being heavily shelled. There are still rockets being launched. Do not leave shelters.”
UPDATE 1240 GMT:
Ukraine has started a long-awaited counter-offensive in the south of the country, says the Ukrainian military.
The spokesperson of Southern Command, Natalia Humeniuk, said, “Today we started offensive actions in various directions, including in the Kherson region.”
Humeniuk said strikes on Russia’s logistical routes had “unquestionably weakened the enemy”, with more than 10 ammunition dumps hit over the last week.
Ukrainian troops said they have reclaimed several settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.
The US assesses that the counter-offensive is beginning with air and ground “shaping” operations. They include strikes on weapons systems, command and control, and ammunition depots.
UPDATE 0807 GMT:
Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Sunday has killed eight civilians, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrolenko.
Ukraine’s military said Russian forces shelled military and civilian infrastructure near Bakhmut, Shumy, Yakovlivka, Zaytsevo, and Kodema.
UPDATE 0734 GMT:
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is leaving Russia by the end of 2022, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, citing sources in the industry.
Ericsson’s headquarters in Stockholm informed its Russian branch last week that 565 employees will be released, but will receive financial and social support.
Top Russian mobile operators MTS and Tele2, have major contracts with Ericsson, which had about 20% of Russia’s telecom equipment market.
Ericsson suspended Russian business and put employees on paid leave in April.
Finland’s Nokia left the Russian market in April, and China’s Huawei has temporarily suspended new orders and furloughed Russian staff.
UPDATE 0728 GMT:
Despite restricted supply from Russia, Germany’s natural gas storage is at 82% and will reach 85% capacity by early September, says Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck.
UPDATE 0616 GMT:
European Union officials say foreign ministers will suspend an agreement with Moscow enabling visas for Russian citizens.
The step is short of a ban but will make it more difficult and expensive to obtain a visa to travel to and within the 27-nation bloc.
An EU official said it is “inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities” so the bloc had to “send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable”.
EU foreign ministers will meet in Prague on Tuesday.
The issue was elevated earlier this month when Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic called for a ban on entry by Russians. Other EU states pushed back against the restriction.
Finland, used by many Russians as a gateway to the EU, responding by cutting visas to Russians by 90%.
ORIGNAL ENTRY: International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are “on their way” to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, amid fears of its use by the Russians as a military base.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Sunday that the visit will be later this week. The mission will assess physical damage to the plant, operation of safety and security systems, staff conditions, and will carry out urgent safeguards activities.
The day has come, @IAEAorg's Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) is now on its way. We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility. Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week. pic.twitter.com/tyVY7l4SrM
— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) August 29, 2022
The IAEA has tried for weeks to reach the plant, the largest in Europe with six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, but has faced Russian obstruction and delay.
The Russians have refused pleas from the international community, including UN Secretary General António Guterres, to demilitarize the complex and withdraw troops, vehicles, and weapons.
Instead, the occupiers have used the shield of the reactors to fire regularly on Ukrainian-held territory across the Dnipro River. Late Sunday, the Russians fired on the city of Enerhodar.
The Ukraine military said, “Russian forces are shelling the residential quarters of the city. Cars and houses of civilians are burning.” Footage showed firefighters trying to extinguish the blazes.
The military said nine other towns across the Dnipro river were shelled. Regional governor Oleksandr Starukh reported that Russian forces struck residential buildings in the city of Zaporizhzhia, about two hours from the plant, and the town of Orikhiv.
Starukh wrote on Telegram, “Today, 14 hours of constant fire from jet systems and barrel artillery at Orikhiv. The middle part of the city suffered the most; the city center is on fire.”
He said two children and their mother were injured.
Ukrainian officials say the Russians are repeatedly shelling the nuclear complex in an attempt to detach the plant from Ukraine’s electricity grid.
On Thursday the plant was knocked off the grid for the first time in 40 years, and power to the reactors was briefly cut, raising concern of critical overheating. Power was restored through a back-up diesel generator, and one reactor was reconnected to the grid on Friday.
But Ukraine state energy agency Energoatom said on Saturday that the firing was ongoing:
As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high….[The plant] operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards.
Ukrainian authorities are distributing iodine tablets to residents in areas near the plant, for protection of the body in case of a radiation leak.
The IAEA said shelling within the Zaporizhzhia plant hit a “special building” only 100 meters from the reactor buildings.
Attacked building have water treatment plants, equipment repair shops, and waste management facilities.