Baltic Sea

Drone attacks Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Ukrainian-held Crimea

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he agreed to the parameters of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant during talks with the UN Secretary-General and the Turkish leader.

Zelenskyy said at a press conference Aug. 18 after talks in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv that Russia should immediately withdraw its forces and stop shelling the nuclear facility in southern Ukraine.

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As the Ukrainian leader held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Kyiv and Moscow accused each other of planning a “provocation” at the plant in the Zaporizhia region, the largest in Europe.

Fears over the risk of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster have risen as Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for shelling the Russian-controlled facility, prompting calls for an IAEA mission to the facility.

“We agreed with the Secretary-General on the terms of a possible IAEA mission to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant through a legal route through an area free from occupiers,” Zelenskyi told reporters.

“Russia should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its armed forces from the area of ​​the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and stop all provocations and shelling,” he said.

Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation at the plant and said it needed to be demilitarized, adding: “We have to tell it like it is – any potential harm to Zaporizhia is suicide.”

Erdogan said at the press conference that he was “concerned” about the safety of the nuclear power plant and was trying to find “a solution” to end the war.

Erdogan, who has major geopolitical rivalries with the Kremlin but maintains a close working relationship with President Vladimir Putin, met with the Russian leader less than two weeks ago in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman called the plan to demilitarize the zone around the plant “unacceptable” and said it would make the plant even more vulnerable to attack.

Russia does not deny it has troops stationed at the factory but has denied claims that it shelled the area. Instead, Moscow has accused Ukrainian forces of firing artillery shells in the area, which officials in Kyiv deny.

grain exports

The Turkish leader, along with Guterres, were key brokers in a deal signed in Istanbul last month that allowed grain exports to resume from Ukraine after the Russian invasion blocked key global supplies.

Before the press conference with Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian Port Authority announced that the 25th cargo ship under the agreement had departed for Egypt with 33,000 tons of grain.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s top grain exporters, and the halt to exports has sent grain prices soaring and there have been fears of looming food shortages around the world, particularly in poor countries already suffering from shortages.

Guterres said during the meeting with reporters that the sides hoped to step up efforts to strengthen operations in three southern Ukrainian ports designated for exports under the deal.

“We will do our best to expand our operations for the coming winter,” said the UN chief, welcoming the deal that provided a safe corridor for cargo ships to leave Black Sea ports.

Guterres will visit a Ukrainian port tomorrow.

With reports from Reuters and AFP