Live: Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

·4-min read
© Ed Jones, AFP (Archive)

Moscow and Kyiv traded fresh accusations on Saturday of shelling around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which has been a focus of international concern that fighting in the area could trigger a disaster. On Friday, Russia blocked the adoption of a joint declaration at a United Nations conference to review the Nuclear Non-Prolifeation Treaty, with Moscow denouncing what it said were "political" aspects of the text. Read our liveblog to keep up with the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

12:56pm: Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Moscow and Kyiv traded fresh accusations on Saturday of shelling around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom energy agency said Russian troops again shelled the grounds of the plant complex in the last 24 hours. "As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high," Energoatom said on Telegram.

Russia's defence ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant complex three times in the last 24 hours. "A total of 17 shells were fired," the ministry said in a communique.

9:32am: Russia intensifies attacks in parts of eastern Ukraine, Britain says

Russia has probably stepped up attacks along the Donetsk sector of the Donbas region over the last five days in a move that could be aimed at sucking in Ukrainian troops and foiling a counter-attack, according to Britain's defence ministry.

There has been intense fighting near the towns of Siverskand Bakhmut which are located north of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, the ministry said on its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter on Saturday.

"There is a realistic possibility that Russia has increased its efforts in the Donbas in an attempt to draw in or fix additional Ukrainian units, amid speculation that Ukraine is planning a major counter-offensive," the update added.

8:00am: Russia won't stop war even if Ukraine drops NATO hopes, says Medvedev

A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Moscow would not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kyiv formally renounced its aspirations to join NATO.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky subject to certain conditions.

Even before the February invasion, Moscow made clear Ukrainian membership of NATO was unacceptable to it.

"Renouncing its participation in the North Atlantic alliance is now vital, but it is already insufficient in order to establish peace," Medvedev told LCI television in quotes reported by Russian news agencies.

Russia, he said, would continue the campaign until its goals had been achieved. Putin says he wants to "denazify" Ukraine.

Kyiv and the West say this is a baseless pretext for a war of conquest.

Russia and Ukraine held several rounds of talks after the invasion began, but they made no progress and there are few prospects for a resumption.

"This (talks) will depend on how events unfold. We were ready before to meet (Zelensky)," Medvedev said.

In his comments, he also said US weapons already supplied to Ukraine – like HIMARS multiple-rocket launchers – did not yet pose a substantial threat.

>> Can US-supplied HIMARS be a game changer for Ukraine?

But that could change, he said, if US sent weapons could hit targets at longer distances.

"It means that when this sort of missile flies 70 km, that is one thing," he said. "But when it's 300-400 km, that is another, now that would be a threat directly to the territory of the Russian Federation."

5:33am: Russia blocks UN adoption of nuclear disarmament text

Russia on Friday prevented the adoption of a joint declaration following a four-week United Nations conference on a nuclear disarmament treaty, with Moscow denouncing what it said were "political" aspects of the text.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 191 signatories review every five years, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote complete disarmament and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

"Our delegation has one key objection on some paragraphs which are blatantly political in nature," said Russian representative Igor Vishnevetsky, adding that Russia was not the only country to take issue with the text.

According to sources close to the negotiations, Russia was opposed in particular to paragraphs concerning the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which is occupied by the Russian military.

The latest draft text had expressed "grave concern" over military activities around Ukrainian power plants, including Zaporizhzhia, as well as over Ukraine's loss of control of such sites and the negative impact on safety.

At the last review conference in 2015, the parties were also unable to reach an agreement on substantive issues.

At the opening of this year's conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world faced "a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War".

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)