A team of IAEA nuclear inspectors arrived in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia Wednesday ahead of a long-anticipated visit to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on the frontline, according to a FRANCE 24 team on the ground. The mission comes amid mounting nuclear safety fears as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of attacking the area around the plant. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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1:16pm: IAEA team reaches Zaporizhzhia city

A team of IAEA nuclear inspectors have arrived in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia ahead of a visit to a Russian-held nuclear power plant on the frontline, according to to a FRANCE 24 team on the ground. 

“The IAEA mission has passed the entrance to the city of Zaporizhzhia,” said FRANCE 24’s James André, reporting from the city, which is around 60 located roughly 60 kilometres away from Enerhodar, where the nuclear plant is located.


The 14-strong team led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) left Kyiv during the morning. 

12:06pm: Kyiv accuses Russia of shelling town by nuclear plant

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of firing on a town by the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. 

“The Russian army is shelling Enerhodar,” said Evhen Yevtushenko, head of Nikopol district military administration, which is located on the northern bank of the Dnipro River opposite Energodar town. “These provocations are dangerous.”

One of the shells hit the building where Enerhodar’s city council is located, Mayor Dmytro Orlov wrote on Telegram, posting pictures of the damaged high-rise with a hole blown from the side and debris littering the ground. 

11:43am: IAEA mission has several objectives at Zaporizhzhia plant

Reporting from Zaporizhzhia city, located roughly 60 kilometres away from the nuclear plant, FRANCE 24’s James André says there are still no details available on how the IAEA mission will be organised.

But the team has several objectives, explained André, including inspecting the structural integrity of the plant, verifying that the emergency nuclear safety mechanisms are functioning, and checking how the Ukrainian engineers still working at the plant are being treated by the Russians.

One of the other objectives is to “create a permanent mission at the Zaporizhzhia power plant though the Russians have not agreed to that principle,” said André.

Security is tight around the plant, André added, noting that the FRANCE 24 team were denied access to Nikopol, a city just across the Dnipro River from the plant.


10:10am: IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant set to arrive Thursday morning: Russia 

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are expected to arrive at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Thursday morning, the TASS news agency has reported, citing Russian-installed authorities in the region.

The inspection will take one or two days and six to eight IAEA experts are expected to stay at the plant following the visit, according to the Russian-installed officials in Enerhodar, the town where the plant is based.

Russian and Ukrainian forces have accused each other of shelling the plant, actions that have raised concerns about a possible nuclear disaster.

9:57am: Kremlin highlights ‘signals’, but no progress, on New START Treaty talks

There are “signals” on a possible resumption of talks to extend the New START Treaty to control US and Russian nuclear arms, the Interfax news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday

However, there is no significant progress yet, Peskov added

9:28am: Russia says Germany is trying to destroy bilateral energy ties

Russia said on Wednesday the German government was doing everything it could to destroy its energy relations with Moscow, hours after state-controlled Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe via the crucial Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

In a briefing in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was Germany, not the Kremlin, that was trying to completely rupture energy ties between the two countries.

Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for a maintenance outage which Gazprom says will run until 0100 GMT on Sept. 3.

8:56am: France not worried about gas supplies this winter: energy regulator chief 

French energy regulator head Emmanuelle Wargon has said France will have sufficient gas supplies to get through the coming winter but added that due to nuclear reactor outages it may have to import electricity at times.

“We are not too worried about our capacity to get sufficient gas, we are confident that we can get through this winter without Russian gas,” she said on LCI television.

She added that France will see its gas storage facilities filled to 100% by the end of September or early October.

Her reaction came after Russia’s Gazprom stopped the flow of natural gas through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe early Wednesday, a temporary move to it announced in advance.

8:08am: Ukrainian formations pushed back frontline in some places: UK

Ukrainian armoured forces have assaulted Russia’s southern grouping of forces on several axes across the south of the country since Monday, said the British defence ministry.

Ukrainian formations have pushed the Russian forces frontline back some distance in places, exploiting relatively thinly held Russian defences, the ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin. 

5:15am: IAEA convoy sets off towards Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

An International Atomic Energy Agency car convoy set off from Kyiv towards the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday morning, a Reuters witness reported from the scene.

It was unclear when the IAEA mission planned to reach Europe’s biggest nuclear plant which is now controlled by Russian forces and has become one of the focal points in the Ukrainian conflict, with Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of undermining its safety.

4:30am: Russia halts gas flows via Nord Stream 1: German entry point data

Russia halted gas supplies via a major pipeline to Europe on Wednesday, intensifying an economic battle between Moscow and Brussels and raising the prospects of recession and energy rationing in some of the region’s richest countries.

Flows fell to zero on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany via the Baltic Sea, according to flow data from entry points linking Nord Stream 1 to the German gas network, for maintenance due to last until the early hours of Saturday. 

1:05am: Heavy fighting rages in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied south

Ukraine claimed to have destroyed bridges and ammunition depots and pounded command posts in a surge of fighting in the Russian-occupied south, fueling speculation Tuesday that its long-awaited counteroffensive to try to turn the tide of war is underway. Russia said it inflicted heavy casualties in return.

The clashes took place in Ukraine‘s Kherson region, where Moscow’s forces rolled up major gains early in the war.

While independent verification of battlefield action has been difficult, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in an intelligence report that several Ukrainian brigades had stepped up their artillery fire in front-line sectors across southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities kept the world guessing about their intentions, sidestepping talk of a major counteroffensive over the past couple of days.

The port city of Kherson, with a prewar population of about 300,000, is an important economic hub close to the Black Sea and the first major city to fall to the Russians in the war that began six months ago.

 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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