- US claims Russia uses ‘nuclear shield’
- First grain ship leaves Ukraine
- Ukraine says 22,000 Russian troops ready to advance south
- Foreign fighters enter Lugansk, governor says
- Ukraine says to take back 50 towns from Kherson
UNITED NATIONS/Kyiv, Aug 2 (Reuters) – The United States has accused Russia of using Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield” by stationing troops there, preventing Ukrainian forces from retaliating and risking a terrible nuclear accident.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was “deeply concerned” that the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia was accused of firing dangerously close shells at in March, was now a base Russian military used to fire on nearby Ukrainian forces.
“Of course the Ukrainians cannot retaliate for fear that there will be a terrible accident involving the nuclear power plant,” Blinken told reporters after the nuclear non-proliferation talks at the United Nations in New York on Monday. Read more
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Russia’s actions went beyond the use of a “human shield,” Blinken said, calling it a “nuclear shield.”
At the New York talks, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Mykola Tochytskyi said “vigorous joint actions are needed to prevent a nuclear catastrophe” and called on the international community to “close the sky” on power plants Ukrainian nuclear weapons equipped with air defense systems.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 sparked the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, killing thousands, displacing millions and leaving large parts of Ukraine in ruins.
The war has also caused a global food crisis, with Russia and Ukraine producing about a third of the world’s wheat, while Western sanctions against Russia, a major energy supplier to Europe, have caused a global energy crisis. .
FIRST CEREAL SHIP
The first ship to carry Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea since the Russian invasion five months ago left the port of Odessa for Lebanon on Monday under a safe passage agreement.
The sailing was made possible after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain and fertilizer export deal between Russia and Ukraine last month – a rare diplomatic breakthrough in a dispute that has become a long one. war of attrition.
The Razoni ship, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, will head for the port of Tripoli, Lebanon, after crossing the Turkish Bosphorus Strait linking the Black Sea, dominated by the Russian navy, to the Mediterranean. It carries 26,527 tonnes of corn.
But there are still hurdles to overcome before millions of tons of Ukrainian grain can leave its Black Sea ports, including clearing sea mines and creating a framework for ships to safely enter the conflict zone and recover the cargoes. Read more
The UN has warned of the risk of multiple famines this year due to the war in Ukraine.
Known as the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain stored in silos and 40 million tonnes of the current harvest, initially from Odessa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, to help clean the silos for the new crop.
Russia called Razoni’s departure ‘very positive’ but denied responsibility for the food crisis, saying Western sanctions have slowed its exports and accusing Ukraine of laying underwater mines at the entrance of its ports.
Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of laying the mines that now float around the Black Sea.
Signaling a deepening energy conflict between Russia and Europe, Russia said on Monday there was little it could do to help with urgent repairs to the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, its main gas pipeline to Europe, following further declines in Gazprom’s production and exports. Read more
Russian gas covered about 40% of European needs before Russia sent troops to Ukraine. Russia cut gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 to just 20% of capacity last week, saying a turbine sent to Canada for maintenance had not been returned and other equipment needed repair.
Russia invaded Ukraine in what it called a “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
After failing to capture the capital Kyiv at the start of the war, Russia is now aiming to capture the eastern region of Donbass, made up of Donetsk and Luhansk, partially occupied by Russian-backed separatists before the invasion, and to capture more the south, having already annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych told media that around 22,000 Russian troops were preparing to advance on the towns of Kriviy Rih and Mykolaiv, where a “sufficiently large” Ukrainian force was waiting.
In the Kherson region, which is mostly under Russian control, Ukrainian troops have liberated about 50 towns, said Yuri Sobolevsky, deputy head of the deposed Kherson regional council.
“Russian troops in the Kherson region suffer considerable losses,” Sobolevsky wrote on Telegram.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield report.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, which is almost entirely under Russian control, said foreign fighters were arriving to help Russian forces.
“We have noticed more and more private military companies coming to the area – the Wagner Group,” Gaidai told Ukrainian television, adding that these irregular forces were driven by “money and looting.”
Russian private military company Wagner has likely been given responsibility for frontline sectors in eastern Ukraine, possibly because Russia faces an infantry shortage, the week said. last the British Ministry of Defence.
Gaidai said the partisans were destroying infrastructure, including gas and water networks, in the battered towns of Lugansk to slow down Russian forces.
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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Michael Perry; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
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