A bombing hit a high-voltage power line at a major Ukrainian nuclear power plant captured by Russia on Friday, prompting plant operators to take a reactor offline even though no radioactive leak was detected.
The Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom blamed Russia for the damage to the Zaporizhia plant, the largest in Europe. Earlier in the week, the United Nations nuclear watchdog requested access to the plant, which Washington says Russia uses as a war shield.
The Russian administration of the nearby occupied city of Enerhodar said Ukrainian artillery fire cut through the lines of the plant, which was captured by Russian forces in early March, at the initial stage of the war.
It is not the first time that military action has caused alarm in Zaporizhia, where the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency had reported that connection to surveillance systems that track nuclear material had been lost.
The administration said in a statement that a fire broke out and power necessary for the safe operation of the reactors was cut. The plant is still managed by its Ukrainian technicians.
Energoatom said the plant, located about 200 kilometers northwest of the Russian-controlled port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, was still operating and no radioactive leaks had been detected.
A decision was made to disconnect one reactor from the grid due to damage to a 330-kilowatt high-voltage power distribution line linking the plant to the thermal power station, it said.
Further east, both sides claimed small gains as Russian artillery shelled towns and villages across a wide area in a familiar tactic.
Ground fighting appeared to be heaviest around Pisky in the Donetsk region, a fortified town held by Ukrainian troops and close to the city of Donetsk, which is held by Russian-backed separatist forces.
The Russians are also targeting the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka as they seek to gain full control of the eastern Donbass, the industrial heartland of Ukraine.
New grain shipment
Meanwhile, three grain ships left Ukrainian ports on Friday and the first incoming cargo ship since the Russian invasion was due to arrive in Ukraine for loading, marking another step in the kyiv government’s efforts to revive its economy. after five months of war.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin was meeting in the Russian city of Sochi with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who is cultivating a mediating role in the war.
“The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia”, declared Fahrettin Altun, one of Erdogan’s main aides.
Turkey helped broker the deal that saw the first grain ship leave a Ukrainian port for foreign markets on Monday since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
On Friday, two grain ships left Chornomorsk and one from Odessa with a total of some 58,000 tons of corn, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry.
The Liberian-flagged Turkish ship Osprey S was scheduled to arrive in Chornomorsk on Friday to load grain, according to the Odessa regional administration.
Russia and Ukraine normally produce about a third of the world’s wheat, and the UN has warned that halting grain shipments through the Russian-dominated Black Sea could trigger famines in other countries, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
“We hope that the security guarantees of our UN partners and Turkey will continue to work, and that food exports from our ports will be stable and predictable for all market participants,” said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. after the departure of the three boats.