Kiev accuses Russia of attacking Ukraine's second-largest nuclear plant in the south and the Kremlin dismisses reports of mass graves in city of Izyum in eastern Ukraine as fabrications, as the conflict enters its 208th day.

Russian forces have controlled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe's largest, since early after the incursion.
Russian forces have controlled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe's largest, since early after the incursion. (Reuters Archive)

Monday, September 19, 2022

Power line reconnected after cut-off in Zaporizhzhia — IAEA

A back-up power line used to supply the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with electricity for essential operations from the Ukrainian grid was disconnected on Sunday, but the plant remained connected to one of the main power lines restored last week, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

"Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard," Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement. 

Russia's Wagner looks for 1,500 fighters against Ukraine — US

The Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, is trying to recruit over 1,500 convicted felons to take part in Russia's battle in Ukraine, but many are refusing to join, a senior US defence official said.

"Our information indicates that Wagner has been suffering high losses in Ukraine, especially and unsurprisingly among young and inexperienced fighters," the US official told reporters, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on the Wagner Group, accusing it of clandestine operations on the Kremlin’s behalf.

Ukraine warns of 'nuclear terrorism' after strike near plant

A Russian missile struck close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine without damaging the three reactors but hit other industrial equipment in what Ukrainian authorities denounced as an act of "nuclear terrorism."

The missile made impact within 300 metres (328 yards) of the reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, blasting a crater 2 metres (6 1/2 feet) deep and 4 metres (13 feet) across, according to Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.

The reactors were operating normally and no staff members were injured, the agency said. But the proximity of the strike renewed fears the nearly seven-month-long offensive in Ukraine might produce a radiation disaster.

146 bodies exhumed so far from mass burial site in Ukraine's Izyum: official

Ukrainian forensic experts have so far exhumed 146 bodies, mostly civilians, at a mass burial site near the town of Izyum in eastern Ukraine and some bear signs of a violent death, the regional governor said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said some 450 bodies are believed to have been buried at the site in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, which was recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces during a counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region.

Oleh Synehubov, governor of Kharkiv region, said the exhumed bodies included two children.

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine jail OSCE staffers for 13 years

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine sentenced two employees of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to 13 years in jail on treason charges, Russian news agencies reported. 

In April, authorities in Luhansk announced the arrest of two OSCE staffers Dmitry Shabanov and Maxim Petrov for alleged espionage.

"The judges found Dmitry Shabanov guilty and sentenced him to 13 years in prison," the RIA Novosti news agency reported, quoting the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic.

Donbass separatist leader urges referendum on joining Russia

Denis Pushilin, head of the Russia-backed separatist Donetsk region of Ukraine, called on his fellow separatist leader of Luhansk province on Monday to combine efforts aimed at preparing a referendum on joining Russia.

In a video posted on social media, he told so-called Luhansk People's Republic leader Leonid Pasechnik in a phone call that "our actions should be synchronised".

Kiev accuses Russia of strike on southern nuclear plant

Ukraine's nuclear energy agency Energoatom has accused Moscow's troops of an attack on the country's second largest nuclear plant in the south.

The accusations come after the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine — Europe's largest atomic facility — faced frequent shelling in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear incident.

On Monday, "the Russian army carried out a missile attack on the industrial site" of the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant, Energoatom said in a post on the Telegram messaging service.

"Fortunately, no one among the power plant staff was hurt," Energoatom said.

Six more grain ships leave Ukraine under Istanbul deal

Six more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the landmark Istanbul grain export deal, the Turkish National Defence Ministry said.

A ministry statement, which did not disclose the ships’ points of departure or destinations, said shipments from Ukrainian ports are continuing as planned.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an Ankara-brokered agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February.

Russia and China agree to deepen defence co-operation

Russia and China have agreed further co-operation on defence issues with a focus on holding joint exercises, Interfax has reported, citing Russia's powerful Security Council. 

Russia says ready for US prisoner swap talks but scolds embassy

Russia's foreign ministry has said that it is ready for talks on a prisoner exchange to free US citizens jailed in Russia, but that the American embassy in Moscow is "not fulfilling its official duties" to maintain dialogue.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: "We have stated many times that we are ready for negotiations to resolve the fate of US citizens convicted in Russia and Russian citizens in the US."

Russia has previously suggested that it is open to a prisoner exchange which could include US Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan, basketball star Brittney Griner and Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout jailed in the United States.

Zelenskyy promises no 'lull' in taking back Ukrainian towns

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised his country there would be no letup in the counteroffensive that has reclaimed towns and cities from Russian troops, as shelling continued across a wide stretch of Ukraine.

“Maybe now it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we have a certain lull," he said in his nightly video address. "But this is not a lull. This is preparation for the next series ... Because Ukraine must be free — all of it.”

As Russian shells hit towns and cities over the weekend, the British Defense Ministry warned that Moscow is likely to increase attacks on civilian targets as it suffers battlefield defeats.

“In the last seven days, Russia has increased its targeting of civilian infrastructure even where it probably perceives no immediate military effect,” the ministry said in an online briefing.

For live updates from Sunday (September 18), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies