Ukraine-Russia war: Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has shut down, says operator – live

Key events

Britain has dismissed Vladimir Putin’s assertion that only a fraction of grain exported from Ukraine under an international deal is going to poor countries.

Putin said on Wednesday, without citing a source, that only two of 87 ships, carrying 60,000 tonnes of products, had gone to poor countries. The deal to allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, took effect last month.

Quoting UN figures, the British defence ministry said about 30% of grains exported under the deal has been supplied to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Reuters reported.

Russia is pursuing a deliberate misinformation strategy as it seeks to deflect blame for food insecurity issues, discredit Ukraine and minimise opposition to its invasion, the ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

The UK government has said Ukrainian forces have continued to make significant gains in the Kharkiv region over the last 24 hours.

Russia has probably withdrawn units from the area, but fighting continues around the cities of Kupiansk and Izium, the British defence ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

Summary

Aside from the latest news at the Zaporizhzhia plant, here are the main developments:

  • Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the north-east of the country has inflicted an extraordinary defeat on Moscow, prompting the Russian army to pull back thousands of troops after a series of battlefield defeats.

  • Ukraine appears to have regained control of the two key cities of Kupiansk and Izium after a major counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in recent days, after wrongfooting Russian forces with a much-publicised Ukrainian southern offensive to distract Russia from the real one being prepared in Kharkiv.

  • Photos published by the Ukrainian security forces showed troops raising the national flag in Kupiansk, an important logistical hub for Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, where rail lines linking Russia to eastern Ukraine converge and which, in the last months, has supplied Russian forces in north-eastern Ukraine.

  • The Russian defence ministry confirmed the withdrawal of its troops from Izium, the major base for Moscow’s forces in Kharkiv, claiming they were being “regrouped” so that efforts could be stepped up in Donetsk. Retaking Izium is perhaps Ukraine’s most significant success in pushing back the Russians since the beginning of the invasion.

  • The Ukrainian flag has also been raised in the city of Balakliia, according to the Kharkiv regional governor.

  • The UK Ministry of Defence said Russian forces were “likely taken by surprise” by the counteroffensive. The much-publicised Ukrainian southern offensive was a disinformation campaign to distract Russia from the real one being prepared in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine’s special forces said. “[Russia] thought it would be in the south and moved their equipment. Then, instead of the south, the offensive happened where they least expected, and this caused them to panic and flee,” said Taras Berezovets, a former national security adviser turned press officer for the Bohun brigade of Ukraine’s special forces.

  • In a video address on Saturday, the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukrainian forces had liberated about 2,000 sq km (700 square miles) of territory since the counter-offensive against Russia started earlier this month, saying: “The Russian army these days is demonstrating its best ability – to show its back.”

  • Residents in Russian-controlled parts of the Kharkiv region have been advised to evacuate to Russia, according to the state-run news agency Tass.

  • A woman has been killed and at least 20 civilians injured in Russian shelling in the Kharkiv district, according to the regional governor.

  • A resident of Izium, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed to the Guardian that Ukrainian troops had entered the city. Before that, “Russian occupying forces were rapidly withdrawing, leaving ammunition and equipment behind.”

  • The UN said it has documented “torture and ill-treatment” of prisoners of war held by Russian forces in Ukraine. It also said it had corroborated at least 5,767 civilian deaths, though added that the actual numbers are “likely considerably higher”.

  • The Ukrainian military said a further 350 Russian soldiers had been killed, bringing the total number since the start of the invasion to 52,250.

  • The military also said Russia was also sending 1,300 Chechen fighters to the southern Kherson region. It comes as western intelligence suggests that Russian forces in Kherson are coming under sustained pressure from Ukrainian attacks.

  • Despite the gains made by Ukraine’s armed forces, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the war was entering a critical period and he urged Ukraine’s western backers to keep up their support through what could be a difficult winter.

Today’s shutdown follows the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog chief saying on Friday that recent shelling made the “situation increasingly precarious” as reliable supply was unlikely to be restored.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said vital offsite electricity supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant had been destroyed by shelling and there was little likelihood a reliable supply would be re-established.

He said shelling had destroyed the switchyard of a nearby thermal power plant. The plant has supplied power to the nuclear facility each time its normal supply lines had been cut over the past three weeks.

The sixth reactor had been operating in “island mode” for the past three days, it said, feeding only its own needs after power lines were severed by Russian shelling.

The restoration of one of these lines on Saturday enabled the operator to make the decision to place the site in “the safest state – cold shutdown”.

If lines continue to be damaged, the plant will rely on backup diesel generators, “the duration of which is limited by the technological resource and the amount of available diesel fuel”, Energoatom said.

In a statement posted on Telegram, Energoatom said the sixth and last functioning reactor was disconnected from the national grid at 3.41am and that “preparations are under way for its cooling and transfer to a cold state”.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant shuts down

Operations at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine have fully halted, Energoatom, the state agency in charge of the plant, said on Sunday.

The agency said the restoration of power to the plant had allowed it to do the safest thing and power down its sixth and last working reactor.

Kyiv on Wednesday called for residents of Russian-occupied areas around the plant, Europe’s largest, to evacuate for their own safety. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling the nuclear plant, risking a nuclear disaster.

source: theguardian.com