Ukraine: Erdogan offers his mediation for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, again disconnected

Ukraine: Erdogan offers his mediation for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, again disconnected

The Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporijjia, occupied by the Russian army, “lost connection again” to the electricity network on Saturday, a few hours after a mediation proposal from the Turkish president to his Russian counterpart in this crisis.

The disconnection of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, in southern Ukraine, had already occurred on August 25. It occurred “after new bombardments in the area”, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but the plant continues to operate “thanks to an emergency line” which supplies it, thus allowing the nuclear fuel cooling.

The last line still in operation “has been damaged”, explained the IAEA, recalling that the other three had been “lost previously during the conflict”.

“Due to insufficient capacity for two reactors, reactor number 5 has been shut down,” Ukrainian operator Energoatom said in a statement on Telegram, blaming the strikes on Russian forces.

“Currently, the sixth reactor is working,” he added. The IAEA, of which six experts are on site, confirmed: “It produces electricity for cooling (nuclear fuel) and other essential safety functions”.

A total loss of power to the plant – if the current arriving from outside is cut off and the emergency generators do not work – could lead to overheating of the installations, or even a meltdown of the core of a reactor, like in Fukushima (Japan) in 2011.

For weeks, bombings have regularly targeted the site, of which Russia and Ukraine mutually accuse each other, at the risk of a major nuclear disaster.

Strikes and fighting also continued elsewhere in Ukraine on Saturday.

In the Donbass (east) coveted by Moscow, the main front line, “the Russian army is attacking in the directions of Bakhmout and Avdiïvka”, the Ukrainian army said in a press release, also mentioning “five strikes” from the army. Ukrainian air force near Donetsk and Pivdenny.

In the center, Russian strikes killed a nine-year-old boy and seriously injured 10 people in Zelenodolsk, in the Dnipropetrovsk region (center), according to Ukrainian authorities, who also reported “intense shelling in the Novgorod region- Siversk” (north), near the Russian border, with “more than 50 explosions”, without victim.

– Fighting near the power plant –

Earlier in the day, in a telephone interview, Turkish President Recep Tayyip told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “that Turkey can play a facilitating role on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, as it did on the grain agreement” in July, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

The Kremlin has confirmed a discussion between MM. Putin and Erdogan, indicating that they had confirmed that they wanted to “increase their economic and commercial ties”, via “joint strategic projects in the field of energy”.

The Turkish press release does not specify whether Ankara has formally offered its mediation to kyiv.

Turkey wants to present a proposal providing, as it did for the grain agreement, for the creation in Istanbul of an office dedicated to dialogue between international organizations, Russia and Ukraine to find a point of agreement on the issue of technical control and inspections of the plant.

Turkey maintains good relations with both Moscow and kyiv.

In July, an agreement between Russia and Ukraine obtained after Turkish mediation allowed the resumption of Ukrainian wheat exports, hampered by the Russian maritime blockade imposed on kyiv in the Black Sea.

The situation of the Zaporijjia power plant, which fell into Russian hands in March, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, worries many international leaders.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that troops in Moscow had “repelled” the day before an attempted amphibious assault by Ukrainian forces who “again tried to seize” the plant.

On Friday, kyiv said it had hit a Russian base in Energodar, a town near the plant, from where it accuses Russia of having withdrawn its weapons before its inspection Thursday by an IAEA team.

After the inspection, the director of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said Thursday that the “physical integrity” of the plant had been “violated on several occasions”. It is “something that cannot continue to happen,” he added, without naming the responsible party.

– “Winter of war” –

On the equally thorny issue of gas, after the announcement on Friday evening by the Russian group Gazprom of the extension of the suspension of its exports to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline, the European Union affirmed on Saturday to be ready for a total cut off of Russian gas.

Denouncing “the extreme use of the gas weapon by Russia”, the European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni indicated that gas stocks in the EU are currently replenished “at around 80%”.

According to Gazprom, Nord Stream, which connects Russia to northern Germany, must be “completely” stopped until a turbine is repaired. The Russian group did not specify a recovery date.

Gazprom’s announcement came after the G7 countries decided on Friday to aim to cap the price of Russian oil.

On Friday, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen had also estimated that “it would be time” to cap Russian gas.

Sign of the gravity of the situation, Sweden, apprehending a “winter of war”, indicated on Saturday that it was going to provide financial guarantees to energy companies in the Nordic and Baltic countries, for an amount of several “billions of dollars”, in order to avoid a financial crisis triggered by the energy shortage in Europe.

“Where Russia cannot do it by force and ordinary weapons, it uses the weapon of energy”, commented Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his evening address, calling on Europeans to “more unity” and to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.


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