Ukraine and Russia trade fresh accusations of shelling at and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on the 185th day of the conflict, prompting warnings of a radioactive leak risk.

Moscow says it is prosecuting
Moscow says it is prosecuting "a special military operation" in Ukraine to protect itself and defend Russian-speakers who it says were persecuted by Ukrainian authorities, a charge Kiev denies. (AFP)

Saturday, August 27. 2022

Putin orders benefit payments for people arriving in Russia from Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree introducing financial benefits for people who left Ukrainian territory to come to Russia, including pensioners, pregnant women and disabled people.

The decree, published on a government portal, establishes monthly pension payments of 10,000 roubles ($170) for people who have been forced to leave the territory of Ukraine since February 18. Disabled people will also be eligible for the same monthly support, while pregnant women are entitled to a one-off benefit.

The decree says the payments will be made to citizens of Ukraine and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics — two breakaway Russian-backed entities in eastern Ukraine that Moscow recognised as independent in February.

Ukraine allows sailors to leave country in likely boost for grain shipments

Merchant sailors will be allowed to leave Ukraine if they receive approval from their local military administrative body, the Ukrainian prime minister has said, a move that could ease the process of shipping grain from the country's ports.

Premier Denys Shmyhal said the decision had been approved by the cabinet on Saturday. The change would cover male crew members of sea and river vessels, as well as students who need to undertake practical training aboard ships, he added.

The decision is likely to ease a shortage of sailors able and willing to crew ships coming into and out of Ukraine to export grain via an internationally brokered corridor. Ukrainian men aged 18-60 have largely been barred from leaving Ukraine under a state of martial law imposed as the country battles the Russian forces.

Slovakia's neighbours to patrol its skies, freeing MiG jets for Ukraine

Slovakia has signed a deal under which fellow NATO states the Czech Republic and Poland will police its skies as Bratislava withdraws its Soviet-made MiG-29s from service, potentially freeing up the old jets to send to Ukraine.

Slovakia has said it is ready to send the 11 MiG fighters to Ukraine, whose military has long relied on Soviet-era equipment and which has appealed for more supplies from NATO nations to boost its ability to battle Russian forces.

Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav told reporters at an air show on Saturday that Bratislava remained ready to send the planes to neighbouring Ukraine but no deal had yet been reached.

Russia's neighbour Kazakhstan halts arms exports

Kazakhstan, a neighbour of Russia, has suspended all arms exports for a year, its government has said, amid conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow.

The former Soviet republic, which also has active economic ties with Kiev, has avoided taking sides in the Ukrainian crisis while calling for its peaceful resolution.

The Kazakh government did not give a reason in Saturday's statement for the decision to halt arms exports.

Kazakhstan produces a wide range of military equipment including boats, armoured and artillery vehicles, machine guns, night visors, grenades, torpedoes and protective gear. The government has not said these items were being exported.

Russia intensifies attacks in parts of eastern Ukraine: UK

Russia has probably stepped up attacks along the Donetsk sector of the Donbass region over the last five days in a move that could be aimed at sucking in Ukrainian troops and foiling a counter-attack, according to Britain's defence ministry.

There has been intense fighting near the towns of Siversk and Bakhmut which are located north of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, the ministry said on its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

"There is a realistic possibility that Russia has increased its efforts in the Donbas in an attempt to draw in or fix additional Ukrainian units, amid speculation that Ukraine is planning a major counter-offensive," the update added.

Russia says Ukraine shelled area of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant three times

Russia's defence ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant complex three times in the last 24 hours.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield report, and there was no immediate response from Kiev to the allegation.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for shelling near the plant, which on Thursday sparked fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal power station that disconnected the plant from the power grid. 

Russia won't stop its campaign even if Ukraine renounces its NATO aspirations

A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow will not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kiev formally renounced its aspirations to join NATO.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy subject to certain conditions.

Even before the conflict, Moscow made clear that Ukrainian membership in NATO was unacceptable to it.

"Renouncing its participation in the North Atlantic alliance is now vital, but it is already insufficient in order to establish peace," Medvedev told LCI television.

Russia blocks final document at nuclear treaty conference

Russia has blocked agreement on the final document of a four-week review of the UN treaty considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament which criticised its military takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear plant soon after Russian troops assaulted Ukraine, an act that has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, told the delayed final meeting of the conference reviewing the 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that "unfortunately there is no consensus on this document." 

He insisted that many countries — not just Russia — didn’t agree with “a whole host of issues” in the 36-page last draft.

For live updates from Friday (August 26), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies