Russia’s state-owned Gazprom said Friday that the Nord Stream gas pipeline due to reopen at the weekend would remain shut until a turbine is repaired, cutting off indefinitely a key supply route to Europe. It comes as heavy fighting continues in areas close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, where an IAEA team began inspecting facilities held by Russian forces on Thursday. Read our live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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10:05pm: IAEA to have ‘full picture’ of Ukraine plant in days

The head of the IAEA told reporters that he expected to have “the full picture of the situation (at the Zaporizhzhia plant) by the end of the weekend, more or less.”

“We’ve seen what I requested to see – everything I requested to see,” Grossi told reporters, adding that his big concerns were the plant’s “physical integrity”, the power supply to the facility and the situation of the staff.

“The military activity and operations are increasing in that part of the country, and this worries me a lot,” he said. “It is obvious that the statistical possibility of more physical damage is present.”


Grossi noted that shelling started in August and “it is quite clearly a more recent trend,” but didn’t apportion blame for damage that has been done so far. 

Local Russian-appointed authorities said Friday that staff at the plant restarted a key reactor just hours after a shelling attack a day earlier forced it to shut down. Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom confirmed on its Telegram channel that the reactivated reactor had been plugged back into the power grid.

8:50pm: IAEA chief to brief UN Security Council on Ukraine plant visit next week

UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has given a press conference upon returning to Vienna after his mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.

He said he plans to issue a report on the safety of the Russian-held facility, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, early next week and brief the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

>> Click on the video below to watch the press conference:


Grossi said six IAEA staff members are still present at the plant, where he said his team had been able to access everything they asked to inspect.

He added that the number would be reduced to two next week and those two would be the IAEA’s continuous presence there in the longer term.

7:10pm: Russia delays reopening of Nord Stream gas pipeline

Russia has scrapped a Saturday deadline to resume gas flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after saying it discovered a fault during maintenance, deepening Europe’s difficulties in securing fuel for winter.

Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and others, had been due to resume operating after a three-day halt for maintenance on Saturday at 0100 GMT.

But Gazprom, the state-controlled firm with a monopoly on Russian gas exports via pipeline, said on Friday it could no longer provide a timeframe for restarting deliveries after finding an oil leak that meant a pipeline turbine could not run safely.

Moscow has blamed sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia invaded Ukraine, for hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels says this is a pretext and Russia is using gas as an economic weapon to retaliate.

Earlier on Friday, European Union Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc should impose a price cap on Russian pipeline gas to foil what she said were Russia’s attempts to manipulate the market. 

5:35pm: Ukraine detains woman for telling Russia whereabouts of husband’s army unit

A 31-year-old woman from eastern Ukraine has been detained on accusations of sending the locations of her soldier husband’s unit and other army assets to Russian military intelligence, Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) has said.

The unnamed woman from Dnipropetrovsk region passed on information about the locations of military buildings and equipment along frontline positions in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, the SBU wrote on Telegram.

The woman would quiz her husband and “pass the information she received through messenger applications to Russian military intelligence, where it was used for artillery and air strikes,” its statement said.

The SBU, Ukraine’s paramount domestic security agency, regularly announces the capture of people it says are spies who have been caught passing military intelligence to Moscow.

5:15pm: Moscow warns US against sending long-range weapons to Ukraine

A senior Russian diplomat has sternly warned Washington against supplying long-range weapons to Ukraine, noting that the US is balancing on the edge of direct involvement in the conflict.

“We have repeatedly warned the US about the consequences that may follow if the US continues to flood Ukraine with weapons,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on state media. “It effectively puts itself in a state close to what can be described as a party to the conflict.”

Ryabkov also pointed to the country’s military doctrine that envisages the use of nuclear weapons in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian state.

The senior diplomat warned that “a very narrow margin that separates the US from becoming a party to the conflict mustn’t create an illusion for rabid anti-Russian forces that everything will remain as it is if they cross it.”

3:30pm: G7 finance ministers agree to Russian oil price cap

The G7 group of industrialised powers have agreed to “urgently” move towards the implementation of a price cap on Russian oil imports as they seek to toughen sanctions on Moscow.

“We commit to urgently work on the finalisation and implementation of this measure”, G7 finance ministers said in a statement, without specifying the cap level.

“We seek to establish a broad coalition in order to maximise effectiveness and urge all countries that still seek to import Russian oil and petroleum products to commit to doing so only at prices at or below the price cap.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the price cap would help fight inflation while delivering a blow to Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine.

The price cap helps achieve “our dual goals of putting downward pressure on global energy prices while denying Putin revenue to fund his brutal war in Ukraine,” Yellen said in a statement.

2:45pm: Russia threatens ‘no gas’ for Europe if Brussels adopts price cap

Russia will stop supplying Europe with gas if Brussels pushes ahead with a price cap on Russian gas, Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and prime minister, has warned.

Responding to comments by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen about putting a ceiling on the price Europe pays for Russian gas, Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “There will simply be no Russian gas in Europe.”

Earlier on Friday, von der Leyen called for a price cap on Russian pipeline gas flowing to Europe, saying it was necessary to fight back against Russian attempts to manipulate the European energy market.

11:45am: Russia launches ‘Vostok 2022’ military drills with China, India, other allies

Russia has launched large-scale military exercises, dubbed “Vostok 2022”, with several Kremlin-friendly countries, including China and India.

The drills from September 1 to September 7 are being staged across several training grounds in Russia’s Far East and in the waters off its eastern coast. 


11:22am: Two IAEA inspectors to stay at Zaporizhzhia plant permanently: Russian envoy

Two IAEA inspectors will stay at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on a permanent basis, Russia’s ambassador to international institutions in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, told the RIA Novosti news agency.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, has been under the control of Russian forces since March.

10:55am: IAEA mission can still play role despite Russian presence at Zaporizhzhia: Zelensky

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could still be important despite the difficulties met due to Russian presence at the site, said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We did everything to ensure that IAEA would get access to the Zaporizhzhia plant and I believe that this mission may still have a role to play,” Zelensky said in a video streamed at The European House, Ambrosetti Forum meeting in northern Italy.

“Unfortunately we haven’t heard the main thing from the IAEA which is the call for Russia to demilitarise the station,” Zelensky added. “I hope the mission will comply with what we’ve agreed and that it will serve the interests of the entire international community.”

10:02am: IAEA team not allowed access to Zaporizhzhia crisis centre: Ukraine nuclear company

Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom has said it would be “difficult” for the IAEA to make an impartial assessment of the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant due to Russian interference.

Energoatom also said the IAEA mission, which arrived at the power station on Thursday, had not been allowed to enter the plant’s crisis centre, where Ukraine says Russia has stationed troops.

9:01am: French industrial gases group Air Liquide pulls out of Russia

French industrial gases producer Air Liquide will complete its withdrawal from Russia this month after it signed an agreement to shift its Russian assets to local management, the company has announced.

Air Liquide employs close to 720 people in Russia, which accounts for less than 1% of the group’s turnover, the company said.

8:14am: Equinor completes Russia withdrawal, marking first full exit of international energy firm

Norwegian energy firm has said on Friday it has completed its exit from Russia in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, delivering on a promise made in February.

This marks the first full, orderly exit from Russia by an international oil and gas firm as pressure mounts on others, such as TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil, to also leave.

Equinor on February 28 said it would start the process of divesting from joint ventures in Russia, describing its position as “untenable” due to the outbreak of war the previous week.

“Equinor can now confirm that the full exit from Kharyaga [oilfield] has also been completed,” the company said in a statement. “Following the exit from Kharyaga, Equinor has no remaining assets or projects in Russia.”

7:06am: Heavy fighting in southern Ukraine: UK

Heavy fighting persists in the southern part of Ukraine including shellings in the Enerhodar district, near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Britain’s defence ministry. 

On Thursday, September 1, Russia began its strategic military exercises in the east of the country, called the “Vostok 2022” (East) exercises that will end on September 5.

“Russia’s military performance in Ukraine has highlighted that Russia’s military strategic exercises, such as Vostok, have failed to sustain the military’s ability to conduct large scale, complex operations,” said the defence ministry in its daily update.

“Russia publicly claimed that 50,000 troops will take part, however, it’s unlikely that more than 15,000 personnel will be actively involved this year. This is around 20% of the forces which participated in the last Vostok exercise in 2018,” said the daily briefing. “Such events are heavily scripted, do not encourage initiative, and primarily aim to impress Russian leaders and international audiences,” it added.

6:00am: Zelensky accuses Russia of blocking journalists’ access to power plant

Speaking in his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission that members of the independent media “would accompany the mission for the world to see the truth and what is really happening”.

However, he said, Russia instead blocked access to journalists and “organised a crowd of their propagandists”.

10:30pm: UN inspectors at nuclear plant ‘not going anywhere’

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi has spoken to reporters upon crossing back into Ukrainian-held territory after leading a team of nuclear inspectors to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Grossi said he had been able to tour the entire site, seeing key areas such as the emergency systems and control rooms. His team would now need to do a lot of work to finish its analysis of worrisome technical aspects.

“We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there, it is at the plant and it is not moving – it’s going to stay there,” a tired-looking Grossi said after what he called a long day.


© Reuters

The IAEA chief said members of his team would stay at the plant to provide an impartial, technical assessment of what is happening on the ground. They would dig deeper into conditions and deliver a report.

“It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant have been violated, several times … This is something that cannot continue to happen,” he said.

10:15pm: Grain ship from Ukraine grounded in Istanbul, halting traffic

A cargo ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine under a UN-brokered export deal has drifted aground in Turkey’s Bosphorus strait, halting shipping through Istanbul, according to the governor’s office and a shipping firm.

The Istanbul governor’s office said the 173-metre “Lady Zehma” was safely grounded and anchored after a rudder failure around 1800 GMT. No one was hurt and Coast Guards were attending, it said.

Earlier this week the Joint Coordination Centre – run by the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey after a grains-export deal was reached – said the Lady Zehma was cleared to depart Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port for Ravenna, Italy, with 3,000 tonnes of corn.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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