On the 176th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres met in Lviv, western Ukraine. “We must say things as they are: any potential damage to Zaporijjia would be suicide,” said Antonio Guterres, calling once again to “demilitarize” the plant, occupied by the Russian army. Saying he was “seriously concerned” by the situation in Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, he called for it not to be used “for any military operation whatsoever”.
Information to remember:
– Guterres, Zelensky and Erdogan met in Lviv, in the west
– Six dead in new Russian shelling in Kharkiv
– A 25th ship loaded with grain left Ukraine
Avoid another Chernobyl, says Erdogan
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed Turkey’s support for Ukraine and expressed alarm at the danger of a “new Chernobyl”, in reference to the largest civilian nuclear accident. Reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, releasing a radioactive cloud that spread throughout Europe. “While we continue our efforts for a solution, we have been and continue to be on the side of our Ukrainian friends”, affirmed Recep Tayyip Erdogan before adding that he does not want a “new Chernobyl”. .
Occupied since the beginning of March, this power station in the south of the country has been the prey since the end of July of bombardments of which Moscow and kyiv accuse each other. President Zelensky said on Thursday that the visit to Lviv by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a “powerful message of support” for his country. He ruled out any peace negotiations with Moscow without the prior withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine.
“People who kill, rape, hit our civilian cities with cruise missiles every day cannot want peace. They should first leave our territory, then we’ll see,” Volodymyr Zelensky told a conference of press in Lviv, saying “don’t trust Russia”.
Russia and Ukraine blame each other on Zaporizhia
In the morning, the Russian army assured that it had not deployed “heavy weapons” in and around the Zaporijjia power plant, contrary to what kyiv claims. Ukraine also accuses Russia of using the plant as a firing base on Ukrainian positions, which Moscow denies.
Conversely, Russia says that the Ukrainian military wants to fire their artillery at the plant and then accuse it of having caused a nuclear accident. For his part, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kouleba, announced on Twitter that the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, told him to be “ready” to go to the plant at the head of a delegation. The day before, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, had deemed such an inspection by the IAEA “urgent”.
Six dead Thursday in Russian bombings in Kharkiv
Fighting continues meanwhile in the Kharkiv region (north-east), where the Ukrainians have accused the Russians of having shelled residential areas, killing six there on Thursday, after 13 the previous evening, and dozens injured in total. “Last night and this morning were the most tragic times in Kharkiv since the beginning of the war,” said its mayor Igor Terekhov, signaling that Friday would be a day of mourning for the victims.
Located about forty kilometers from the Russian border, this city, the second largest in Ukraine, is regularly pounded by Russian soldiers, who have never managed to seize it. Hundreds of civilians were killed in this region, according to the authorities. In the south, one person died and two others were injured and hospitalized after a strike in Mykolaiv, announced its mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych.
Grain exports continue
On the diplomatic front, Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday, Volodymyr Zelensky said in the evening. “We will work together to achieve the necessary results for Ukraine,” added the Ukrainian president, who is calling for more financial and material aid for his country and tougher sanctions against Moscow.
The Zelensky-Erdogan-Guterres meeting comes against a background of increasing negotiations to allow the resumption of cereal exports from Ukraine, one of their main producers and exporters in the world. They were totally blocked for several months following the Russian invasion, raising the specter of a global food crisis. In July, an agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine and validated by the United Nations and Turkey, made it possible to resume these exports.
Erdogan, who is mediating on this subject, went to Russia in early August to talk about it with President Vladimir Putin. A first humanitarian ship chartered by the UN, loaded with 23,000 tons of wheat, in this regard left Ukraine on Tuesday – heading for Ethiopia -. On Thursday, a vessel loaded with cereals sailed from this country, the 25th since the signing of the agreement, announced the Ukrainian port authorities.
In total, “more than 600,000 tons of Ukrainian agricultural products” have since passed through the “grain corridor” from the ports of Odessa, Pivdenny and Chornomorsk, they added. On Friday, Antonio Guterres plans to go to Odessa, then to Turkey to visit the Joint Coordination Center (CCC) which oversees the application of the agreement.
Situation still tense around Zaporizhia
In the south, the situation remained tense around the Zaporijjia power plant. Thursday, the Russian army hammered that “only units providing security” were there. Ukraine, which for its part evokes the presence of Russian “heavy weapons”, also accuses Russia of using the plant as a firing base on Ukrainian positions, which Moscow denies. Conversely, Russia says that the Ukrainian soldiers want to fire their artillery at the power plant and then accuse it of having caused a nuclear accident, while “the Russian armed forces are taking all necessary measures” to ensure the security.
A week ago, Antonio Guterres and the United States called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone around the site to guarantee its security. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg himself deemed it “urgent” on Wednesday that “all Russian forces” withdraw and that an “inspection” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) there takes place.
Russia also announced that it had deployed planes equipped with state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles on Thursday in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave surrounded by NATO countries where the conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated tensions.