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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said that the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “remains highly threatening.” After meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi, Zelenskyy again said that “immediate and complete demilitarisation of the ZNPP is necessary.” Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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05:15am: 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.

9:00pm: Gazprom says to suspend gas supplies to France’s Engie from Thursday

Russian energy giant Gazprom on Tuesday said it would suspend gas supplies to France’s main provider Engie from Thursday after it failed to pay for deliveries made in July.

“Gazprom Export has notified Engie of a total suspension of gas supplies from September 1, 2022, until the full receipt of the financial sums due for the deliveries,” Gazprom said in a statement published on Telegram.

Engie declined to comment on Gazprom’s announcement when contacted by AFP. The French firm said it had already put in place measures to supply its clients even if supplies from Gazprom are disrupted.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster TMC that Engie had found “other supply sources”, without providing details, saying  customers needed to be reassured.

8:38pm: US expects Russia to prepare sham referenda in Ukraine, says State Department

The US government has assessed that Moscow is preparing to stage sham referenda in areas of Ukraine under its control to manipulate the results to claim that the Ukrainian people want to join Russia, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Polling data show that in a free referendum, Ukrainians would choose not to join Russia, department spokesman Vedant Patel said at a daily news briefing.

6:37pm: EU divided over restricting Russian travel

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, faced stiff resistance from some European Union states Tuesday over moves to restrict travel by Russians following the invasion of Ukraine.

The Czechs want to suspend a 2007 deal that eased visa applications for Russian tourists, while some other members have urged an outright visa ban. But some EU countries including Hungary, Luxembourg or Austria have raised objections.

“There is no place for tourism,” said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, who is hosting an informal two-day meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Prague.

Tightening visa restrictions would “send a signal to the elite in Moscow and St Petersburg” which is now free to travel, he added.


5:47pm: Zelensky meets IAEA team over Ukraine nuclear plant

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky met Tuesday with a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ahead of its long-awaited visit to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. 

“We want the IAEA mission… to reach the plant and do everything possible to avoid the dangers” of a nuclear disaster, Zelensky said of the site which has been targeted by repeated shelling, according to a video released by the presidency.

The plant — Europe’s largest atomic facility — has been occupied by Russian troops since early March. 

“This is probably one of the top-priority questions regarding the safety of Ukraine and the world today,” Zelensky said, calling for the “immediate de-militarization of the plant” and its transfer to “full Ukrainian control”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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