The Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex in southern Ukraine, occupied by Russian forces in the first days of their February 24 invasion

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Wednesday’s Coverage: Will Russia Allow IAEA Inspection of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant?

Source: Institute for the Study of War


International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says he and the IAEA team have completed their first tour of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Pushing back on the attempt of Russia and its proxies to limit access to 24 hours, Grossi said there is “a lot more to do”: “Most importantly, we are establishing a continued presence from the IAEA.”


The BBC reports that Russia has lost more than 900 elite military personnel in its invasion of Ukraine.

The GRU special forces has lost 151 troops, nearly one in four of them being officers. Russia’s National Guard has suffered 245 fatalities, including many from special forces units. At least 67 Russian military pilots have been killed.


Finland is providing another €8.3m ($8.29m) in further defense aid to Ukraine.

Finland has now given €92.3m ($92.2m) in military assistance to Kyiv.


The IAEA mission has arrived at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

However, the head of the Russia proxy local administration, Yevgeny Balitsky, insisted “must see the work of the station in one day”, rather than the four days planned by the IAEA.

The Guardian’s Luke Harding and Christopher Cherry speak to residents of Ukrainian-held Nikopol, repeatedly shelled by the Russians using the Zaporizhzhia plant as a military base.


Red Cross Director General Robert Mardini has appealed for an end to all military operations around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Warning of the “castastrophic” consequences of a strike on the complex, he said it is “high time to stop playing with fire and instead take concrete measures” to protect the plant: “The slightest miscalculation could trigger devastation that we will regret for decades.”

Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak wrote of the latest Russian military operations:


Ravil Maganov, chairman of Russia’s second-largest oil producer Lukoil has been killed in a fall from a window, a fate sometimes suffered by those who have no longer in favor with the Kremlin.

Maganov, 67, fell from the sixth floor of a hospital. Also a Lukoil Vice President, he worked with the firm since 1993, soon after its inception. Overseeing the refining, production and exploration operations, he became chairman in 2020.

Soon after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Lukoil called for an end to the war, in a letter to shareholders: “We stand for the immediate cessation of the armed conflict and duly support its resolution through the negotiation process and through diplomatic means.”

In May, Lukoil executive Alexander Subbotin died in a suspected poisoning.

A month later, Lukoil head Vagit Alekperov, resigned after he was named in international sanctions against Russia.


Amid their escalating sabotage operations, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has issued guidance to residents of Russian-occupied Crimea about reporting the “most popular” places that Russia’s troops and collaborators visit:

  • The exact location of the deployment points and the address of residence of the occupying troops (preferably geolocation with coordinates);
  • Places of residence of the leadership of the occupying forces (also better with georeferencing);
  • Locations and routes of movement of military equipment;
  • Accurate data of local collaborators who went over to the side of the enemy (address of residence and location, geo-reference with coordinates, full name, position and place of work);
  • Persons “sympathizing” with the occupiers and other supporters of the occupying authorities.


US intelligence assesses that the Russian military is suffering manpower shortages, amid Russia’s stalling offensive in the east of Ukraine and the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south.

Vladimir Putin signed a decree last Thursday to raise the size of Russia’s armed forces from 1.9 million to 2.04 million.

An American official said Wednesday that the Russians are recruiting contract service members, “including by compelling wounded soldiers to re-enter combat, acquiring personnel from private security companies, and paying bonuses to conscripts”. He added:

Separately, we have credible reporting that Russia’s Defense Ministry is also likely to begin recruiting convicted criminals in Ukraine in exchange for pardons and financial compensation.


The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed five civilians and injured 12.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the fatalities were in the communities of Rozdolne, Pivnichne, Heorhiivka, Bakhmut, and Slovyansk.


Russia’s Defense Ministry has reinforced concerns of Russian obstruction of the International Atomic Energy Agency mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, putting out unsupported claims of Ukrainian attacks in the area.

Presenting no evidence, the Ministry claimed that two sabotage groups of up to 60 people [landed] in seven boats and attempted to seize the power plant” on Thursday morning. It said “Measures have been taken to destroy the enemy, including with the use of army aviation.”

The Ministry also claimed shelling of the IAEA meeting point near the plant.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has welcomed the European Union’s suspension of a visa facilitation agreement with Russia.

EU foreign ministers, compromising between EU states for and against a visa ban, agreed the suspension on Wednesday. The step complicates the process for Russians and make it more costly.

Zelenskiy reacted in his nightly video address to the nation:

I think it is humiliating for Europe when it is considered as just one big boutique or restaurant. Europe is primarily a territory of values, not primitive consumption.

And when the citizens of the state that wants to destroy European values use Europe for their entertainment or shopping, for the vacation of their mistresses while they themselves work for the war or to simply silently wait out the immoral fall of Russia, which is happening right now, this is completely contrary to everything which Europe was united for in general.


Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh has posted an update on Telegram:

The Russians are shelling the pre-agreed route of the IAEA mission from Zaporizhzhia to the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant]. The UN advance team cannot continue the movement due to security reasons.

Ukraine continues to make efforts to organise safe access of the international IAEA mission to the ZNPP. We demand that the Russian Federation stop the provocations and grant the IAEA unhindered access to the Ukrainian nuclear facility.

Starukh posted amid reports that the Russians have again carried out “false flag” attacks on the nearby Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar (see Original Entry).

Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted:

Russia carries out demonstrative strikes on Enerhodar, hitting the official route of the IAEA mission. To blame it on Ukraine. Houses were destroyed. This is a demonstration of the real “interest” of the Russian Federation in the inspection. And this is another proof of the true weight of Russian “guarantees” for any intermediaries.


Ukraine officials have said Ukrainians should be patient for the successful outcome of the counter-offensive to liberate the south of the country.

Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said:

The fact that we have not taken Kherson [city] yet does not mean that the operation in the south has stalled or failed. It is carried out in a planned manner. We destroy enemy logistics, air defence systems, fuel and ammunition depots….

There will be no quick wins.

Arestovych said latest attacks had further isolated Russian troops on the right bank of the Dnipro River, disabling the Kakhovsky and Daryiv bridges.

In his nightly video address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had consulted with military commanders:

I will not reveal the details now. I will say only one thing: on behalf of our intelligence, I want to thank all our people who support us very strongly in the south of our country, and especially in Crimea. The intelligence officers are grateful for the information provided and will use it to the maximum. Let the enemies not forget whose peninsula they are staying on. Temporarily staying.

The analysts of the US-based Institute for the Study of War add:

Ukrainians and the West should not fall for Russian information operations portraying the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast as having failed almost instantly or that depict Ukraine as a helpless puppet of Western masters for launching it at this time….

Military operations on the scale of this counteroffensive do not succeed or fail in a day or a week.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: As an International Atomic Energy Agency team reaches southern Ukraine to inspect the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Russia and their proxies are putting up obstacles.

The IAEA mission arrived on Wednesday in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about a two-hour drive from the plant. IAEA head Rafael Grossi and the team had hoped to begin work on Thursday.

But Russian occupiers rejected the IAEA’s four-day schedule to assess physical damage to the plant, operation of safety and security systems, and staff conditions, and to carry out urgent safeguards activities. Instead, they said access will only be granted for 24 hours.

The Russians also said the mission must join the queue of civilians who move back and forth between territory controlled by Russia and by Ukraine, causing further delays to the inspections. Volodymyr Rogov, a Russian proxy official, declared, “The IAEA mission will stand in line to get to the liberated part of the Zaporizhzhia region. This is due to the fact that they will not be issued special passes.”

Ukrainian officials have also raised concerns about security. They said on Wednesday that Russia’s forces shelled the Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar in a “false flag” attack to disrupt the IAEA’s arrival.

Ukraine state energy company Energoatom said the shelling continued on Thursday, “Since five o’clock in the morning, constant mortar attacks on the city have not stopped.”

A group of Russian K-52 attack helicopters “worked” over the city, striking residential areas. A mortar attack was carried out in the immediate vicinity of the territory of the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant] and nuclear reactors.

Exiled Mayor Dmytro Orlov said “several civilian objects were hit” and there were victims.

The Russians, using the nuclear plant’s reactors as cover against retaliation, also continued regular attacks on Ukrainian-held Nikopol across the Dnipro River. The latest assault, with Grad rockets and heavy artillery, injured a 57-year-old woman. Twelve high-rise buildings, several shops, pharmacies, a college, a children’s sports school, and a cultural and sports complex were damaged.

IAEA head Grossi said of the “very complex” mission, “We are going to a war zone. We are going to occupied territory. And this requires explicit guarantees from not only from the Russians but also from the Republic of Ukraine.”