Russia requests a UNSC meeting on Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine where Kiev and Moscow have blamed each other for strikes on the power plant as the conflict enters its 180th day.

Ukrainian and U.S. state flags fly in central Kiev, Ukraine September 25, 2019.
Ukrainian and U.S. state flags fly in central Kiev, Ukraine September 25, 2019. (Reuters)

Monday, August 22, 2022

US rejects Ukraine's demand to impose blanket ban on Russians

The United States has rebuffed Ukraine's demand for a blanket visa ban on Russians, saying Washington would not want to close off pathways to refuge for Russia's dissidents and others who are vulnerable to human rights abuses.

"The US wouldn’t want to close off pathways to refuge and safety for Russia’s dissidents or others who are vulnerable to human rights abuses," a State Department spokesperson said.

"We’ve also been clear that it is important to draw a line between the actions of the Russian government and its policies in Ukraine, and the people of Russia," the spokesperson added.

Russia calls for UN meeting on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant 

Russia has requested that the UN Security Council holds a meeting regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported, citing Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy.

Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, was overrun by Russian troops in March. It remains close to the frontlines, and has come under repeated shelling in recent weeks, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. 

Meanwhile, Russia's parliament said in an official statement published on Monday that it will hold a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation around Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine: Russia wants talks to buy time for a fresh attack

Russia has been trying to get Ukraine into fresh talks to buy time to regroup so it can launch a fresh offensive, a Ukraine presidential adviser says.

For weeks now, the Kremlin has been "trying to convince Ukraine to enter into negotiations", Mykhaylo Podolyak told AFP news agency, as the sixth month of the conflict draws to a close.

During such talks, Moscow wanted to "freeze the conflict while preserving the status quo in the occupied Ukrainian territories", he added.

Sevastopol anti-air systems triggered, object shot down - official

The top official in the Russian-controlled city of Sevastopol in Crimea has said that an anti-air defence system had been triggered nearby, after Russian media reported that explosions were heard in the city.

In a statement posted on Telegram, Sevastopol's Russian-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said that an object had been shot down.

The Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, has been rocked by a series of explosions in the past two weeks. Moscow last week blamed a blast at a munitions depot in the north of the region on saboteurs.

US warned Russian ambassador over Ukraine nuclear plant

The United States had warned Russia's ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov against Moscow escalating the conflict in Ukraine and called for Russia to cease military operations at or near Europe's largest nuclear power plant during a meeting last week, a State Department spokesperson says.

Antonov came to the department on August 18 and the US called on Russia "to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and to return full control of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant to Ukraine," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Bulgaria: Talks to resume Russian gas supplies 'inevitable'

Bulgaria's interim energy minister has said it was "inevitable" that the Balkan country would discuss resuming gas deliveries with Russia's Gazprom that were halted in April, after the government promised to secure adequate supplies for the winter.

Rossen Hristov did not say when negotiations with the Russian company will start, but said they would be needed to secure cheaper gas for the country.

"Given the demands of business and the trade unions, in reality, talks with Gazprom to renew supplies are inevitable," Hristov told reporters.

Ukraine agricultural exports may reach 4M tonnes in August

Ukraine's agricultural exports are likely to rise to around 4 million tonnes in August from 3 million tonnes in July thanks to a Türkiye-brokered agreement that unblocked Ukrainian sea ports.

Deputy chair of Ukrainian Agrarian Council Denys Marchuk, whose organisation represents agricultural producers, gave the estimate at a televised briefing.

Serbia official visits Moscow, calls sanctions EU 'hysteria'

Serbia’s interior minister has met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in a rare visit by a state official from Europe, highlighting Belgrade’s refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said he told Lavrov during their meeting that “Serbia is the only state in Europe that didn’t introduce sanctions and was not part of the anti-Russian hysteria.”

Ireland reopens embassy in Ukraine's Kiev

Ireland has said it reopened its embassy in Kiev, after it was shut due to Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

The mission, which was formally opened in August last year, had been operating remotely since the start of hostilities in February.

Foreign minister Simon Coveney called the reopening "an important statement of solidarity and support" to Ukraine. The embassy team's key priority will be "renewing and building" contacts with Ukrainian officials to help Ireland support the country's government and people.

Borrell: EU mulls military training for Ukrainian forces

The European Union will debate the launch of a major training operation for Ukrainian forces in neighbouring nations, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

The proposal will be discussed next week at a meeting of EU defence ministers in Prague, Borrell told a press conference in Santander, in northern Spain, adding that he hopes it will be approved.

"Of course it would be a big mission, I think it would be a big mission," he said, adding "any mission has to be up to the level of the conflict".

Area near Ukraine nuclear plant hit again despite US pleas

Russian shelling across the river from Ukraine's main atomic plant wounded four people, an official said, only hours after the latest international pleas to spare the area from attacks to prevent a nuclear disaster.

Nikopol, on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River and about 10 kilometres downstream from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, came under fire three times overnight from rockets and mortar shells, hitting houses, a kindergarten, the bus station and stores.

Mayor Oleksandr Saiuk said four people were wounded, including two who were hospitalised.

Zelenskyy: Russia's Ukraine soldiers trial to undermine talks

Russia might take the provocative step of putting Ukrainian soldiers on trial as Kiev marks 31 years of independence for the war-ravaged country on Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned.

"If this despicable court takes place, if our people are brought into these settings in violation of all agreements, all international rules, there will be abuse," Zelenskyy warned in an evening address.

Ukraine's Independence Day, August 24, will also mark six months since Russia attacked the former Soviet republic, in a devastating war that has cost thousands of lives.

"This will be the line beyond which no negotiations are possible."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

For live updates from Sunday (August 21), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies