At a three  way summit: Zelenskyy demands Russia’s withdrawal from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

At a three way summit: Zelenskyy demands Russia’s withdrawal from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

The UN chief and the two presidents met on Thursday in Lviv, western Ukraine, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported. There will be a press conference after the meeting – but according to the UN this should not be broadcast live.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists on demilitarizing the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear plant. The plant must be completely freed from the “aggressors”, Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram after a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday. “This intended terror on the part of the aggressor could have catastrophic consequences globally.”

For the United Nations and Turkey, the meeting is an attempt to explore a negotiated solution nearly six months after the Russian attack on Ukraine. In addition, the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian troops, and the possibilities of an international mission of experts. On Wednesday night, Zelenskyi again called for Russian soldiers to be withdrawn from Europe’s biggest nuclear plant.

The United Nations must guarantee the security of this strategic object. Meanwhile, Russia has threatened to shut down the reactors at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant. The warring parties blame each other for the continued bombing of the facility. Russian troops have occupied the plant since March, but Ukrainian technicians continue to operate it. So far, the Moscow government has also rejected international demands for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear plant. This is “unacceptable”, said the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

The Defense Ministry spoke of closing the nuclear plant if it continued to be bombed. Ukrainian representatives accused Russia of wanting to connect the nuclear plant to the Russian grid. They also warned that closing the reactors would increase the risk of a nuclear disaster. Shutting down a nuclear power plant is a complicated process because it involves breaking the nuclear chain reaction without causing a meltdown.

Meanwhile, the plant’s Russian occupiers again accused the Ukrainian leadership of dangerous attacks. There is a risk that the bombing will damage the reactors’ cooling system and nuclear waste storage facilities, the region’s occupation chief Yevgeny Balitsky said on Russian state television on Thursday. “The cooling system ensures the reliable operation of the nuclear power plant,” he said, warning of a catastrophe like the 1986 one at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

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Massive missile attack

According to official information, at least eleven people were killed in massive Russian rocket attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late on Thursday. Ukrainian military governor Oleh Synyehubov said in a telegram that these were exclusively civilians. Another 35 people were injured. There were also attacks in the city of Krasnohrad, about 80 kilometers to the southwest. Authorities said two people died and two others were injured. The information could not initially be independently verified.

According to authorities, at least three civilians were killed and another six wounded in cities in the neighboring Donetsk region, which are under Ukrainian control. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region also report deaths and injuries from rocket attacks almost daily.

The United Nations has recorded more than 5,500 civilian deaths in the war, but assumes the casualty toll is much higher.

grain runners

According to Turkish sources, 43 ships have already put to sea since the agreement on the Ukrainian grain corridor. 25 of them left Ukraine, 18 went to Ukrainian ports, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Thursday. Thus, more than 622,000 tons of grain were shipped from Ukrainian ports, he said.

In late July, the UN and Turkey brokered deals so that Ukraine could again export grain through its Black Sea ports despite the Russian war of aggression. It is estimated that over 20 million tons of grain products are stored in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Estonia is trying to put more pressure on Russia. As of this Thursday, Russian citizens can no longer enter the Baltic country from the EU and NATO with a Schengen visa issued by Estonia.

no more seen

In response to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Estonia had already largely suspended the issuance of visas and residence permits for Russians. With a valid visa, however, it was still possible to enter the Schengen area via the Estonian border by bus or car. This is no longer possible in the future.

Russian citizens with visas issued by other EU members, which apply to the entire Schengen area with its 26 European countries, can also enter the country. Along with its neighboring countries Finland and Latvia, which also border Russia, Estonia is therefore campaigning for a fundamental ban on tourist visas. Germany and the EU Commission in Brussels reject this.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said that Russia would only use nuclear weapons in emergencies. According to Russian military doctrine, the use of nuclear arsenals is only possible in response to an attack in self-defense, says ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev. Russia has no interest in a direct confrontation with NATO and the US.