EU makes it harder for Russians to enter the bloc and a team of experts reaches Zaporizhzhia in south Ukraine en route to a Russian-held nuclear plant on the 189th day of the conflict.

Intense fighting continues across the southern region of Kherson, where Ukrainian forces have been trying to claw back areas seized by Russia at the start of the offensive.
Intense fighting continues across the southern region of Kherson, where Ukrainian forces have been trying to claw back areas seized by Russia at the start of the offensive. (AP)

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Zelenskyy: EU should ban all Russian state media

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the European Union to ban all Russian state TV channels and "propagandists", an apparent reference to Russian state media employees.

He made the remarks speaking via video link at the Forum 2000 event in Prague.

Not a single Russian propaganda-monger should stay on the territory of the EU. Not a single Russian state TV channel should be allowed to keep working on the territory of the EU.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President

Finland: EU curb on Russian visas 'goes in the right direction'

The European Union's move to restrict travel visas for Russians due to Moscow's offensive in Ukraine is a step "in the right direction" if implemented by member states, Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has said.

Earlier, EU foreign ministers agreed to fully suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, making it harder and more costly for Russian citizens to enter the EU, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. 

Russia bans entry to 55 military and political officials from Canada

Russia has banned entry to 55 military and political officials from Canada in a tit-for-tat move, the Russian foreign ministry said.

It said the decision was taken in response to sanctions from Canada against Russian nationals.

EU foreign ministers agree to suspend visa deal with Russia

European Union foreign ministers have agreed to fully suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, making it harder and more costly for Russian citizens to enter the EU, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says.

"We agreed on...full suspension of the European Union-Russia visa facilitation agreement," he told a news conference at the end of a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Prague on Wednesday.

"This will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states. It's going to be more difficult, it's going to take longer."

Ukraine’s southern offensive gets ‘successes’ in 3 areas of Kherson

Ukrainian forces have had "successes" in three areas of the Russian-occupied region of Kherson, a Ukrainian regional official says, two days after Kiev announced the start of a southern counter-offensive to retake territory.

Yuriy Sobolevskyi, the deputy head of Kherson's regional council, told Ukraine's national news broadcaster that Ukrainian troops had seen successes in the Kherson, Beryslav, and Kakhovka districts, but declined to give details.

"Now is the time to support our armed forces...Now is not the time to talk about the specific successes of our lads," he said, echoing the Ukrainian military's insistence on a near-total information blackout about the offensive.

Russia, US discussing possible New START Treaty talks 

Russia and the United States have been discussing a possible meeting of their bilateral consultative commission on the New START Treaty, the Interfax news agency has quoted Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Wednesday there were "signals" on a possible resumption of talks to extend the treaty.

Grossi: IAEA aiming to prevent a nuclear accident at Russia-held Ukraine plant

UN inspectors en route to a Russian-held power plant on the frontline of fighting in southern Ukraine are aiming to prevent "a nuclear accident", the IAEA chief has said.

"My mission is... to prevent a nuclear accident and preserve the largest nuclear power plant in Europe," said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency whose 14-strong team arrived in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia around 1100 GMT.

Insurance payments on defaulted Russia debt to move forward

Russia's default on its international debt has been fully acknowledged by a little-known panel of financial firms when they set a date for the procedure to compensate insured investors.

The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee (CDDC) for Europe said it was scheduling an auction to settle credit derivate transactions on certain Russian government bonds on September 12.

Moody's ratings agency said in June that Russia defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in a century, after bond holders did not receive $100 million in interest payments.

UN inspectors moving to Ukraine nuclear plant in conflict zone

A convoy of jeeps carrying United Nations nuclear inspectors was crossing Ukraine toward the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia power plant, holding the world's hope that it could help secure the safety of the facility in the middle of a conflict zone and avoid any nuclear catastrophe.

“We are going to a war zone. We are going to occupied territory,” Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Wednesday of the unprecedented mission for the UN's nuclear watchdog.

Meanwhile, the Russia-backed local authorities in Zaporizhzhia claimed that Ukrainian forces shelled the territory of the plant and the nearby town of Enerhodar overnight. 

Ukraine's Kuleba urges EU to ban Russian tourists

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on the European Union to ban Russian tourists, describing the measure as appropriate since a majority of Russians supported the country's "genocidal war of aggression" against Kiev.

"The time for half-measures is gone," Kuleba told Reuters news agency as EU foreign ministers were about to meet in Prague on Wednesday for the second day of talks. "Only a tough and consistent policy can produce results."

He also proposed launching a special program for Russian soldiers who do not want to fight in Ukraine anymore.

Russia: Germany trying to destroy bilateral energy ties

Russia said the German government was doing everything it could to destroy its energy relations with Moscow, hours after state-controlled Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe via the crucial Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

In a briefing in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that it was Germany, not the Kremlin, that was trying to completely rupture energy ties between the two countries.

Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for a maintenance outage which Gazprom says will run until 0100 GMT on September.

Gazprom halts pipeline gas flow in new jitters for Europe

Russian energy giant Gazprom has cut off its gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for maintenance work, further raising tensions on an already taut electricity market.

The three-day works at a compressor station are "necessary", Gazprom has said, adding that they had to be carried out after "every 1,000 hours of operation".

But Germany's Federal Network Agency chief Klaus Mueller has called it a "technically incomprehensible" decision, warning that it was likely just a pretext by Moscow to wield energy supplies as a threat.

Experience shows that Moscow "makes a political decision after every so-called maintenance", he said, adding that "we'll only know at the beginning of September if Russia does that again".

For live updates from Tuesday (August 30), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies