Ukrainian nuclear power plant loses power line, Moscow makes Europe sweat over gas

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UN vehicles carrying members of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection mission on a road outside the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine on September 1, 2022 .

Genia Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

A nuclear power plant on the front line of war in Ukraine has again lost its external power supply, UN inspectors said on Saturday, fueling fears of a disaster as Moscow kept its main gas pipeline closed. Germany to damage the economies of Kyiv’s Western friends.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Europe, saw its last main external power line cut, although a reserve line continues to supply electricity to the grid, the International Energy Agency said. atomic (IAEA).

Only one of the plant’s six reactors remained in service, the agency said in a statement.

The factory, seized by Russian troops shortly after their invasion on February 24, has become a focal point of the conflict, with each side accusing the other of bombing nearby.

A stalemate over Russian gas and oil exports escalated last week as Moscow pledged to keep its main gas pipeline to Germany closed and G7 countries announced a planned price cap Russian oil exports.

The energy struggle is a consequence of President Vladimir Putin’s six-month invasion of Ukraine, underscoring the deep rift between Moscow and Western countries as Europe prepares for the cold months ahead.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy blow for all Europeans for this winter,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his late night speech on Saturday, citing the continued shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

Zelenskiy blamed Russian bombing for a cut on August 25, the first Zaporizhzhia was cut off from the national grid, which narrowly avoided a radiation leak. The shutdown caused power outages across Ukraine, although emergency generators kicked in for vital cooling processes.

Moscow cited Western sanctions and technical problems with energy disruptions, while European countries accused Russia of weaponizing supplies as part of its military invasion.

Nuclear concerns

Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged accusations over attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel.

An IAEA mission visited the plant on Thursday and some experts stayed there pending the publication of a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the coming days.

Remaining inspectors noted that one reactor was still producing electricity “for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site and for households, factories and others via the grid”, the IAEA said on Saturday. .

The plant said in a statement that the fifth reactor had been shut down “due to constant shelling by the Russian occupation forces” and that there was “insufficient capacity of the last reserve line to operate two reactors”. .

Deteriorating conditions amid the shelling raised fears of a radioactive disaster which the International Red Cross said would cause a major humanitarian crisis.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of stockpiling heavy weapons at the site to discourage Ukraine from firing on it. Russia, which denies the presence of such weapons there, has resisted international calls to move troops and demilitarize the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of unsuccessfully trying to seize the factory. Reuters could not verify the report.

Turkey also offered on Saturday to ease the situation.

Gas and Oil

Announcing that it would not carry out the planned restart of gas shipments via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, one of Russia’s main supply lines to Europe, state-controlled energy giant Gazprom blamed a technical failure.

Gazprom said on Saturday Germany’s Siemens Energy was ready to help repair broken equipment but there was no place available to carry out the work.

Siemens said it has not been contracted to perform maintenance work on the pipeline, but is available.

The indefinite delay in restarting Nord Stream 1, which passes under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and other countries, is compounding Europe’s winter fuel problems as energy prices drive up the cost of living.

Finance ministers from the wealthy Group of Seven democracies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – said on Friday that the Russian oil price cap was aimed at reducing “Russia’s ability to finance its war of aggression while limiting the impact of Russia’s war on world energy prices.

The Kremlin has said it will stop selling oil to any country that enforces the cap. Russia calls its invasion of its neighbor “a special military operation”.

Kyiv and the West say this is an unprovoked war of aggression against a former part of the Soviet Union.

The United States and other countries have pledged new military aid to Kyiv to fight an invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Ukraine last week launched a counter-offensive targeting the south, in particular the Kherson region, occupied by the Russians at the start of the conflict

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