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“Playing with fire”: The United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency are demanding a demilitarized zone because of the danger around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. The news at a glance.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on warring factions Russia and Ukraine to agree on a non-combat zone around the endangered Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. “Russian and Ukrainian armed forces must commit themselves not to conduct military activities to or from the factory site,” Guterres told the UN Security Council in New York.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, also argued in his report to the Security Council for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant. However, Russia and Ukraine each saw the move on the other side as the first reactions.

In the combat zones in Ukraine, there were increasing signs of counter-offensive by the Ukrainian army. Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych spoke about operations in the south and east. The double attack aims to capture Russian reserves and prevent the enemy from reinforcing one sector of the front at the expense of another, he said.

It is the 196th day of the defense of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to deliver a speech today in Vladivostok in the far east of the country on how his government envisions a future multipolar world order.

Nuclear experts see “playing with fire” in Zaporizhzhya

IAEA chief Grossi reported to the UN Security Council how precarious the situation was at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhya. “We are playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could happen,” he said. The shelling of the building is extremely dangerous. Military vehicles in the facility’s buildings must be removed, he demanded. The external power supply must also be ensured to guarantee the cooling of the reactors.

Russian troops occupy the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in the south of the country. Kiev and Moscow blame each other for shelling the facility. An IAEA team led by Grossi visited the factory last week to analyze the security situation. Two IAEA experts remained permanently on site.

If Grossi’s proposal for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant means a withdrawal of Russian troops, Ukraine is in favor of it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. The Atomic Energy Agency needs a broad mandate to force Russia to relinquish the nuclear power plant to Ukrainian control.

Grossi experts had precisely identified the danger to the nuclear power plant, said Renat Karchaa, a representative of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom. Speaking to the Security Council in New York, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebensha, said his country was waiting for Grossi’s specific proposals on the demilitarized zone. Russia will not negotiate this with Ukraine because Ukraine is shelling its own nuclear facility.

At the meeting, Germany blamed Moscow for the dangerous situation. “It is Russia that is militarizing the power plant. It is Russia that is stationing equipment and troops at the site,” said Thomas Zahneisen, Germany’s deputy ambassador to the UN. British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said: “Russia is playing nuclear safety roulette.”

New Ukrainian attack in the east?

“Ours are putting pressure on, they are putting real pressure on,” Arestovych, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, said of the counter-offensive in the south and east of the country. He did not name the locations, that was a matter for the General Staff. War correspondents on Russian state television, however, have targeted the city of Balakliya in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkov. The Ukrainian army recaptured areas there, including the city of Werbiwka.

A Ukrainian counterattack has been underway in the Kherson region in the south of the country since last week. The official Ukrainian side has so far given little information about that. The US and Britain are also talking about a Ukrainian advance there.

The US does not want to classify Russia as a terrorist state

Contrary to a Ukrainian demand, the US does not want to classify Russia as a state that supports terrorism. The Washington administration does not see this as the most effective way to hold Russia accountable, said National Security Council communications director John Kirby.

The US government has examined the possible effects and concluded that the classification could be a greater hindrance – for example, if there were ever negotiations to end the war. “It wasn’t lightly dismissed,” Kirby noted. The United States currently considers four states to be terrorist sponsors: Syria, Iran, North Korea and, as of early 2021, Cuba.

Hungary threatens to block EU sanctions against Russia

According to EU diplomats, Hungary threatens to block the extension of sanctions against Russia. The country wants to ensure that three Russian oligarchs are removed from the sanctions list. These are in particular Alisher Usmanov, Pyotr Aven and Viktor Rashnikov.

They are among more than 1,200 people sanctioned by the European Union for their support of Russia’s Ukrainian policies. The sanctions must be extended until next Thursday or they will expire.

EU diplomats pointed out that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban still maintains good relations with Putin and has torpedoed punitive measures several times in recent months. Hungary’s opposition has forced the EU to abandon planned sanctions against Russian Orthodox Church leader Kirill and a full oil embargo.

That’s gonna be important today

President Putin addresses the Economic Forum in Vladivostok today. The Kremlin chief is expected to comment on the war against Ukraine and the impact of Western sanctions on his country. According to his adviser Yuri Ushakov, Putin also wants to talk about fundamental changes in world politics and substantiate his claim that the West is losing power and meaning.


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