Ukraine’s main nuclear power plant loses its power line


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KYIV – A critical nuclear power plant in Ukraine has again lost external power, international energy officials said on Saturday, heightening concerns as the energy battle between Moscow and the West has intensified in recent days. in the midst of the ongoing war.

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Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant – the largest in Europe – saw its last remaining main external power line cut even though a reserve line could continue to supply power to the grid, the International Energy Agency said. atomic energy (IAEA).

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Only one of the six reactors remained in service at the plant, the agency said in a statement posted on its website.

The factory, controlled by Moscow since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in late February, has become a focal point of the conflict, with each side accusing the other of bombing nearby.

Meanwhile, the stalemate over Russian gas and oil exports continued this week as Moscow pledged to maintain the closure of its main gas pipeline to Germany and G7 countries announced a expected peak in Russian oil export prices.

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The energy struggle is a consequence of President Vladimir Putin’s six-month invasion of Ukraine, underscoring the deep rift between Moscow and Western countries as Europe prepares for the cold months ahead.

“Russia (prepares) a decisive energy blow for all Europeans for this winter,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his late night speech on Saturday, citing the continued shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

Zelenskyy earlier blamed Russian bombing for the shutdown of the nuclear power plant last week that narrowly avoided a radiation leak.

Moscow cited Western sanctions and technical problems with energy disruptions, while European countries accused Russia of weaponizing supplies as part of its military invasion.

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NUCLEAR CONCERNS

Kyiv and Moscow have swapped accusations over attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, which was captured by Russian forces in March but is still operated by Ukrainian personnel and connected to the Ukrainian power grid.

An IAEA mission visited the plant on Thursday and some experts stayed there pending the publication of a report by the UN nuclear watchdog in the coming days.

Last week, Zaporizhzhia was cut off from the national grid for the first time in its history after transmission lines were cut, causing power outages across Ukraine, although emergency generators were triggered for recovery processes. vital cooling.

Meanwhile, the IAEA said on Saturday that the remaining inspectors had noted that one reactor was “still operating and producing electricity both for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site and for households. , factories and others through the network”.

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International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi explains a chart as he addresses the press after an IAEA team returned from Russia's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, at Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria on September 2.  , 2022.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi explains a chart as he addresses the press after an IAEA team returned from Russia’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, at Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria on September 2. , 2022. Photo by ALEX HALADA/APA /AFP via Getty Images

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in a statement, said the fifth reactor had been shut down “due to constant shelling by the Russian occupation forces” and that there was “insufficient capacity of the last reserve line to make operate two reactors”. Deteriorating conditions amid the shelling raised fears of a radioactive disaster which the International Red Cross said would cause a major humanitarian crisis.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of stockpiling heavy weapons at the site to discourage Ukraine from firing on it. Russia, which denies the presence of such weapons there, has so far resisted international calls to move troops and demilitarize the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of unsuccessfully trying to capture the factory, but Reuters was unable to verify the information.

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Turkey also offered on Saturday to ease the situation.

GAS AND OIL

In its announcement on Friday that it would not resume shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline as planned, Russian energy giant Gazprom blamed a technical fault.

Gazprom said on Saturday that Siemens Energy was ready to help repair broken equipment but there was nowhere available to carry out the work. Siemens said it has not been contracted to perform maintenance work on the pipeline, but is available.

Nord Stream 1, which passes under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and other countries, was due to resume operations after a three-day shutdown for maintenance at 01:00 GMT on Saturday.

The indefinite delay in resuming gas deliveries will add to Europe’s problems with winter fuel supplies, with the cost of living already rising, driven by energy prices.

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Finance ministers from the wealthy Group of Seven democracies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — announced a Russian oil price cap on Friday aimed at “reducing…Russia’s ability to to finance its war of aggression”. while limiting the impact of Russia’s war on world energy prices.

The Kremlin has said it will stop selling oil to any country that enforces the cap.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said on Saturday that its forces had repelled Moscow’s advances in various areas, particularly in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces sought to cross the Donetsk region.

Fighting also continued in the Kharkiv region and in the south, Zelenskyy said on Saturday.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls “a special military operation”. Kyiv and the West have declared it an unprovoked war of aggression against a former part of the Soviet Union.

More than six months later, Russia moved forward as the United States and other countries pledged new military aid to Kyiv.

Ukraine launched a counter-offensive earlier this week after several weeks of relative stalemate in the conflict that has left thousands dead and millions displaced. It targets the south, in particular the region of Kherson, occupied by the Russians at the start of the conflict.

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