UN says it has the logistics and security capabilities to support any IAEA mission to the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant from Kiev as the conflict enters its 174th day.

A Ukrainian soldier holds an award during a ceremony at a position along the front line in the Donetsk region amid Russia's offensive in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier holds an award during a ceremony at a position along the front line in the Donetsk region amid Russia's offensive in Ukraine. (AFP)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Ukraine nuclear operator reports cyberattack on its website

Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom has reported what it called an "unprecedented" cyberattack on its website but said its operations had not been disrupted.

"On August 16, 2022, the most powerful cyberattack since the start of the Russian invasion occurred against Energoatom's website," the operator said on Telegram.

It "was attacked from Russian territory".

The Russian "popular cyberarmy" group used more than 7 million internet bots to attack the website for three hours, Energoatom said.

France's Macron discusses Ukraine crisis with India's Modi

French President Emmanuel Macron has discussed via telephone the crisis in Ukraine with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the two agreed to work together to try to end the conflict, said the French presidency.

Macron also held a call earlier with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during which Macron underlined his concerns about risks to Ukraine's nuclear facilities as a result of the fighting with Russia. 

Russia claims Crimea arms depot blasts an act of ‘sabotage’

Russia's defence ministry has said a fire that set off explosions at a munitions depot in Moscow-annexed Crimea was caused by an act of "sabotage".

"On the morning of August 16, as a result of an act of sabotage, a military storage facility near the village of Dzhankoi was damaged," the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

"Damage was caused to a number of civilian facilities, including power lines, a power plant, a railway track as well as a number of residential buildings. There were no serious injuries," it added.

In call with Macron, Zelenskyy condemns ‘Russia’s nuclear terrorism’ 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he discussed "Russia's nuclear terrorism" at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Zelenskyy, writing on Twitter, gave no further details of their discussions on the plant, which Russia seized in March following the start of Moscow's attacks on Ukraine on February 24.

"Thanked (him) for France's tangible defence aid. Discussed macro-financial aid to Ukraine & food security challenges. We must increase sanctions on Russia," said Zelenskyy.

"Continued dialogue with French President @EmmanuelMacron. Informed about the situation at the front, Russia's nuclear terrorism at the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant),"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Twitter.

Russia fines veteran rock star for criticising Ukraine conflict

A Russian court has found Soviet rock legend and Kremlin critic Yuri Shevchuk guilty of "discrediting" the Russian army after he condemned Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.

He received the maximum fine of $815, the press service of a court in the central city of Ufa said on the Telegram messenger.

The court said Shevchuk made a speech during his concert that contained "public calls to prevent the use of Russia's Armed Forces", the statement added.

Finland to drastically cut Russian tourist visas

Finland will limit Russian tourist visas to 10 percent of current volumes as of September 1 due to rising discontent over Russian tourism amid the conflict in Ukraine, the government has said.

"Tourist visas will not stop completely, but their number will be significantly reduced," Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in Helsinki.

Currently, Finland processes around 1,000 Russian visa applications a day, Haavisto told public broadcaster Yle separately.

Turkish, Ukrainian defence chiefs discuss grain exports

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov have discussed the latest situation in Ukraine and grain exports under a historic Türkiye-brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports.

During the phone call, according to the Turkish Defence Ministry, Akar told Reznikov that Türkiye will continue to play its part for peace and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Akar also expressed satisfaction with the progress made in grain shipment and the work carried out in cooperation with the Joint Coordination Center, which was established to oversee Ukrainian grain exports, comprising representatives of Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine.

Former UN chief Ban urges world to remember Bucha victims

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the world to honour civilians who were killed when Russian ground forces attacked Ukraine's capital and eventually retreated from the area surrounding Kiev.

Ban, a former South Korean diplomat who served as secretary-general between 2007 and 2016, visited Bucha, a city northwest of the Ukrainian capital where hundreds of civilians were found dead after the Russian withdrawal in late March.

“All the people killed here without any reason should be fully honoured and remembered in the history of humankind," Ban said. Authorities said 116 bodies were found in a mass grave near the church after Russian soldiers pulled out.

Russian defence minister claims unipolar world has ended

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu has claimed that the unipolar world has ended, saying Moscow's "special military operation" marked the era of transit to the multipolar structure.

Speaking at the 2022 Moscow Conference on International Security, Shoygu said Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine put an end to the Western hegemony in the world. It will take some time for a multipolar order to adjust but it is already a reality, he noted.

"A multipolar world is the reality of today. The transition from the dominance of one global leader to several centres of attraction is not easy, but it creates real conditions for the development of sovereign states," Shoygu said.

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video

A court in Russia has fined streaming service Twitch $33,000 for hosting a short video containing what it calls "fake" information about activities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Russian news agencies reported.

The court accused Twitch, a US-based live-streaming service popular with video gamers, of failing to remove a 31-second clip of a girl from the town of Bucha, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

Transformer substation catches fire, ammunition depot explodes in Crimea

An ammunition depot has exploded in northern Crimea, Russia's TASS news agency reported, citing the administration of the village of Mayskoye.

Russia's Defence Ministry said no "serious" casualties had occurred in the explosion, state-owned news agency RIA reported. Earlier on Tuesday, RIA also reported a fire at a transformer substation near the town of Dzhankoi in Crimea, 20 kilometres away.

Ukraine has not officially confirmed or denied responsibility for reported explosions in Crimea in recent days.

UN ship with grain for Africa sets off from Ukraine: Ministry

A UN-chartered vessel laden with grain has set off from Ukraine for Africa following a deal to relieve a global food crisis, the ministry in charge of shipments said. The government has said it is hoping there will be two or three similar shipments soon.

The MV Brave Commander departed from the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi and will sail to Djibouti "for delivery to Ethiopia", the infrastructure ministry said on Telegram.

The ship, loaded with 23,000 tonnes of wheat, is the first ship chartered by the UN World Food Programme to leave Ukraine since Russia's assault on its neighbour began in February. 

Russia warns IAEA against visiting Zaporizhzhia via Kiev

Any mission undertaken by the UN's nuclear agency to inspect Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant cannot pass through Kiev as it is too dangerous, a senior Russian diplomat was quoted by news agencies as saying. 

"This is a huge risk, given that Ukraine's armed forces are not all made up in the same way," Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy head of the foreign ministry's nuclear proliferation and arms control department, said.

However, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday in New York that the UN Secretary had assessed that it had the logistics and security capacity to be able to support any IAEA mission from Kiev.

Vishnevetsky was quoted saying any such mission had no mandate to address the "demilitarisation" of the plant as it could only deal with "fulfilment of IAEA guarantees". 

'Catastrophe' at Zaporizhzhia threatens whole of Europe 

A "catastrophe" at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine would threaten the whole of Europe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned.

"Under the cover of the plant, the occupiers are shelling nearby cities and communities," Zelenskky said. "Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP can affect the countries of the European Union, Türkiye, Georgia and countries from more distant regions. Everything depends solely on the direction and speed of the wind," he said.

The plant, Europe's biggest nuclear facility, was captured by Russian troops at the beginning of March, not long after Moscow launched its incursion into Ukraine.

For live updates from Monday (August 15), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies