Russia-Ukraine war: risk of nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia, says Russian energy chief; Kherson ‘torture’ sites found, says Kyiv – live


Zaporizhzhia power plant ‘at risk of a nuclear accident’, says Russian energy chief

The head of Russia’s state-run atomic energy agency, Rosatom, has warned of the risk of a nuclear accident at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Rosatom CEO, Alexei Likhachev, was cited by Interfax news agency as saying:

The plant is at risk of a nuclear accident. We were in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all night.

Rosatom has controlled the nuclear facility, Europe’s largest, since President Vladimir Putin ordered the formal seizure of the plant.

Likhachev’s warning came amid renewed shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant, following reports from the IAEA that powerful explosions had shaken the area on Saturday night and Sunday.

More than a dozen blasts have been reported from apparent shelling, with damage to some buildings, systems and equipment, but “none so far critical for nuclear safety”, the IAEA said.

Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the attacks. Likhachev accused Ukraine of being willing to “accept” a “small nuclear incident”, adding:

This will be a precedent that will forever change the course of history. Therefore, everything must be done so that no one has in their minds to encroach on the safety of the nuclear power plant.

Key events

Four ‘torture’ sites identified in Kherson, says Kyiv

Ukraine’s prosecutor general office has said its officials have identified four locations where Russian forces tortured detainees in Kherson city before its troops withdrew from the southern Ukrainian city earlier this month.

In an update posted on Facebook, it said officials had inspected “four premises” where Russian troops “illegally detained people and brutally tortured them”.

It said Russian forces “set up pseudo-law enforcement agencies” in pre-trial detention centres and a police station in the captured city.

The statement continued:

Parts of rubber batons, a wooden bat, a device used by the Russians to torture civilians with electric shocks, an incandescent lamp and bullets from the walls were recovered. People in cells and basements were subjected to various methods of torture, physical and psychological violence.

Inside the basement of one of the sites, officials “discovered part of a metal-plastic pipe, handcuffs”, it said.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said Ukraine was in a “much better condition” than Russia to keep fighting through the winter.

Speaking during a press conference in Indonesia, Austin said:

We’ve done a lot to try to prepare the Ukrainians to be prepared for a fight in the winter, and enable them to continue to keep pressure on our adversaries throughout the winter months.

He added that it was “hard to predict how things will evolve and on what timeline, but we’re in this in support of Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

Kremlin: no plans for second round of mobilisation

The Kremlin has said there are no plans to call up more Russian soldiers to fight in Ukraine through a second round of mobilisation.

Asked about the potential for a new round of mobilisation, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said:

I can’t speak for the defence ministry, but there are no discussions in the Kremlin about this.

President Vladimir Putin announced plans to draft 300,000 men to fight in Ukraine in September, marking Russia’s first mobilisation since the second world war following a string of military defeats.

Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced the end to the “partial mobilisation” in October.

Russia trying to ‘freeze Ukrainians to death’ with nuclear plant shelling, claims Ukraine official

A Ukrainian official has said the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is a Russian tactic that aims to disrupt power supplies and “freeze Ukrainians to death”.

Strikes on the plane on Saturday and Sunday amount to a “genocidal campaign to freeze Ukrainians to death, to deprive Ukrainians of electricity”, said Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister.

Russia is trying to “freeze the front” because they “are not achieving anything on the battlefield and they’re desperately looking for a way to achieve what they call an operational pause on the front”, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

He said there would be “no pause from our side” and that Ukraine will continue its recent counter-offensive.

Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia facility in south-east Ukraine, which is Europe’s largest nuclear power station and has been under Russian control since March.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena, have been pictured attending a commemoration ceremony in Kyiv at a monument to the so-called “Heavenly Hundred” for the people killed during the Ukrainian pro-EU mass demonstrations in 2013/2014.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife Olena attend a commemoration ceremony in Kyiv.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife Olena attend a commemoration ceremony in Kyiv. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters
Commemoration ceremony at a monument to the so-called "Heavenly Hundred" for the people killed during the Ukrainian pro-EU mass demonstrations in 2014.
Commemoration ceremony at a monument to the so-called “Heavenly Hundred” for the people killed during the Ukrainian pro-EU mass demonstrations in 2014. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Summary

The time in Kyiv is 1pm. Here is a round-up of the day’s headlines so far:

  • The southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol was hit by Russian shelling overnight, according to city officials. The shelling reportedly hit a residential area injuring a 78-year-old man, the Kyiv Independent reports city governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, as saying.

  • The Kremlin said it was concerned by what it claimed was repeated Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It called on global powers to ensure that Kyiv ceased attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear power station. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control, was rocked by shelling on Sunday, drawing condemnation from the UN nuclear watchdog which said such attacks risked a major disaster.

  • The UN nuclear watchdog will conduct an assessment of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Monday after the site was shelled more than a dozen times over the weekend. The blasts damaged buildings and equipment, though none had been “critical” for nuclear safety and security, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

  • Russia also said that it would bring to justice those responsible for the alleged execution of Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine and that it would do everything possible to draw attention to what it has claimed is a war crime. Russia has accused Ukrainian soldiers of executing more than 10 Russian prisoners of war, citing a video circulating on Russian social media. Ukraine denies the claims.

  • Russian forces launched almost 400 strikes on Sunday in Ukraine’s east as part of a campaign of artillery fire, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Sunday night address. “The fiercest battles, as before, are in the Donetsk region. Although there were fewer attacks today due to worsening weather, the amount of Russian shelling unfortunately remains extremely high,” Zelenskiy said.

  • Russian forces are constructing defensive positions partially staffed by poorly trained mobilised reservists around the Svatove sector in the Luhansk region in north-eastern Ukraine, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. With Russia’s south-western frontline now more readily defendable along the east bank of the Dnipro River, the Svatove sector is likely now a more vulnerable operational flank of the Russian force, the latest British intelligence report reads.

  • A new training centre for Ukrainian troops in the central Spanish city of Toledo will start operating at the end of November, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, told the Nato parliamentary assembly. Spanish police will also be deployed in Ukraine over the coming weeks to help investigate alleged Russian war crimes, Sanchez added.

  • A video purportedly showing the detention of two Russian servicemen who refused to fight against Ukraine has appeared across multiple Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels. The video shows two men – each dressed in military uniform – called to appear in front of their commander.

  • Italy’s government will ask parliament to pass a new law on military and civilian supplies to Ukraine throughout 2023, defence minister Guido Crosetto said in an interview. The Rome government can send aid to Ukraine without seeking parliamentary authorisation each time on the basis of a decree that expires at the end of the year.

  • Forty-five countries and institutions will meet in Paris on Monday to pledge millions of euros of aid for Moldova, as fears mount that it could be further destabilised by the conflict in Ukraine, according to a Reuters report. Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania, has felt the effects of rising food and energy prices as well as an influx of thousands of refugees arriving in the country of about 2.5 million people.

  • Ukraine has exported almost 16.2m tonnes of grain so far in the 2022-23 season, down 31.7% from the 23.8m tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed. The volume included almost 6.3m tonnes of wheat, 8.6m tonnes of corn and 1.3m tonnes of barley, Reuters reported.

  • Negotiating with Russia would be “capitulation”, a key adviser to the Ukrainian presidency has said. Mykhaylo Podolyak said attempts by the west to urge Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow were “bizarre” given a series of major military victories by Kyiv. He added it would mean that a country “that recovers its territories must capitulate to the country that is losing”. The comments come after recent US media reports that some senior officials were beginning to encourage Ukraine to consider talks.

  • The first Ukrainian supermarket has opened in Kherson since the city was liberated earlier this month. ATB, a 24/7 shop in the city, had queues of people outside on Sunday as it welcomed customers back. Kherson remains without electricity, running water or heating, but residents found some relief in being able to purchase Ukrainian pickled gherkins, dumplings, horseradish and other favourites.

  • France has sent another two air defence systems to Ukraine, along with two multiple rocket launchers, according to an interview given by a French defence minister.

  • Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of feeding disinformation to further its “predatory project” in Africa, where France has had military setbacks. In an interview with TV5 Monde on the sidelines of a conference of Francophone nations in Tunisia, the French president said there was a “predatory project” pushing disinformation into African countries, which was “a political project financed by Russia, sometimes others”.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. My colleague Léonie Chao-Fong will be along shortly to continue bringing you all the latest news from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy marked Ukraine’s annual Day of Dignity and Freedom on Monday by celebrating the sacrifices made by Ukrainian people since Russia’s invasion and said his country would endure and prevail.

In a video address to the nation, Zelenskiy hailed the contributions made by Ukrainians, from soldiers, firefighters and medics to teachers giving online lessons, villagers cooking for the military, tailors sewing uniforms and farmers ploughing their fields despite the risk.

He hailed their defiance despite frequent missile strikes, widescale destruction, shortages and rolling blackouts as winter sets in, almost exactly nine months since Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported.

“We can be left without money. Without gasoline. Without hot water. Without light. But not without freedom,” Zelenskiy said in an address that he delivered standing in an ornate room in the presidential palace in the capital, Kyiv.

The Kremlin also said that it would bring to justice those responsible for the alleged execution of Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine and that it would do everything possible to draw attention to what it has claimed is a war crime.

Russia has accused Ukrainian soldiers of executing more than 10 Russian prisoners of war, citing a video circulating on Russian social media.

“There is no doubt that Russia itself will be looking for the perpetrators of this crime. They must be found and punished,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European integration was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that Kyiv would investigate the video but that it was “very unlikely” it showed what Moscow claimed.

A spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office told Reuters it was looking into the footage and called for allegations to be investigated promptly and in full.

Russia claim Ukraine shelling nuclear plant, denied by Kyiv

The Kremlin has said it was concerned by what it claimed was repeated Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It called on global powers to ensure that Kyiv ceased attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control, was rocked by shelling on Sunday, drawing condemnation from the UN nuclear watchdog which said such attacks risked a major disaster.

“This cannot but cause our concern,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We call on all countries of the world to use their influence so that the Ukrainian armed forces stop doing this.”

Ukraine says it was Russia that shelled the plant. Reuters was unable to independently verify which side was responsible.

A new training centre for Ukrainian troops in the central Spanish city of Toledo will start operating at the end of November, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, told the Nato parliamentary assembly.

Spanish police will also be deployed in Ukraine over the coming weeks to help investigate alleged Russian war crimes, Sanchez added.

Ukraine has exported almost 16.2m tonnes of grain so far in the 2022-23 season, down 31.7% from the 23.8m tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed.

The volume included almost 6.3m tonnes of wheat, 8.6m tonnes of corn and 1.3m tonnes of barley, Reuters reported.

After an almost six-month blockade caused by the Russian invasion, three Ukrainian Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Ministry data showed that 3m tonnes of various grains were exported in the first 20 days of November, 29.7% less than in the same period of November 2021.

The government has said Ukraine could harvest between 50m and 52m tonnes of grain this year, down from a record 86m tonnes in 2021 because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower yields.

Ukrainians living in the capital, Kyiv, are preparing for the “worst winter of their lives” with temperatures set to plummet and the nation’s power grid a target for Russian attacks.

Here is an extract from an Associated Press article today:

When the power is out, as it so often is, the high-rise apartment overlooking Ukraine’s war-torn capital feels like a deathtrap. No lights, no water, no way to cook food. And no elevator by which to escape from the 21st floor should a Russian missile strike. Even when electricity comes back, it’s never on for long.

“Russian strikes are plunging Ukraine into the Stone Age,” says Anastasia Pyrozhenko. In a recent 24-hour spell, her 26-story high-rise only had power for half an hour. She says the “military living conditions” have driven her and husband from their apartment.

“Our building is the highest in the area and is a great target for Russian missiles, so we left our apartment for our parents’ place and are preparing for the worst winter of our lives,” said the 25-year-old.

The situation in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and other major cities has deteriorated drastically following the largest missile attack on the country’s power grid on Tuesday. Ukrainian state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo reported that 40% of Ukrainians were experiencing difficulties, due to damage to at least 15 major energy hubs across the country.

Warning that electricity outages could last anywhere from several hours to several days, the network said that “resilience and courage are what we need this winter.”

Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, too, stressed the need to be ready and resilient in the face of a potential blackout: “Worst case scenario. Actually, I don’t like to talk about that, but I have to be prepared if we (do not) have electricity, blackout, no water, no heating, no services and no communication,” Klitschko told the AP on Friday.





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