Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is 'obviously' Ukrainian, says UN nuclear watchdog chief

A Ukrainian firefighter pushes out a fire after a strike in Zaporizhzhia on October 6, 2022 - MARINA MOISEYENKO
A Ukrainian firefighter pushes out a fire after a strike in Zaporizhzhia on October 6, 2022 - MARINA MOISEYENKO

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),  said it was "obvious" the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant belonged to Ukraine.

Grossi told a press conference in Kyiv that: "For us it is obvious that since it is a Ukrainian facility, the ownership is [Ukrainian state nuclear agency] Energoatom."

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government this week to take over operations at Europe's largest nuclear power station in southern Ukraine after declaring the region a Russian annex.

Grossi, who is visiting the Ukrainian capital ahead of a visit to Russia, said that "with the safety and the security of the plant - and technical operation - we will continue to be guided by the agreements we have with Ukraine".

"We are an international organisation guided by international law and as you know very well, annexations are not accepted under international law," he said.

06:54 PM

That's all for today

Today's top stories included:

  • At least three killed in Russian strikes on high-rise in Zaporizhzhia city

  • Two Russians arrive in Alaska claiming they sailed 300 miles to escape the military

  • Russian opposition politician accused of treason

  • Zelensky tells EU leaders that Ukraine is keeping Russia's tanks from Warsaw

  • The EU issues new sanctions over Moscow's annexation of four Ukrainian regions

  • Elon Musk claims 'eastern portions' of Ukraine 'prefer Russia'

  • US believes Ukrainians may have been behind car bomb that killed Darya Dugina

06:49 PM

'Obvious' Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is Ukrainian, says UN nuclear watchdog chief

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi said it was "obvious" the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant belonged to Ukraine.

Grossi told a press conference in Kyiv that: "For us it is obvious that since it is a Ukrainian facility, the ownership is [Ukrainian state nuclear agency] Energoatom."

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government this week to take over operations at Europe's largest nuclear power station in southern Ukraine after declaring the region a Russian annex.

Grossi, who is visiting the Ukrainian capital ahead of a visit to Russia, said that "with the safety and the security of the plant - and technical operation - we will continue to be guided by the agreements we have with Ukraine".

"We are an international organisation guided by international law and as you know very well, annexations are not accepted under international law," he said.

06:13 PM

Two Russians detained in Alaska after 'sailing 300 miles in small boat'

Two Russian men who were detained in Alaska after sailing 300 miles across the Bering Strait in a small boat told locals they were "fleeing the Russian military", it has been reported.

Authorities on St Lawrence Island found the two men near the city of Gambell on Tuesday.

A statement from the State Senator's office said: "Given current heightened tensions with Russia, Senator Sullivan then called the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and spoke to him as well as another senior DHS official.

"Since those calls, Customs and Border Protection is responding and going through the process to determine the admissibility of these individuals to enter the United States."

The men claimed they had set sail from Egvekinot in north eastern Russia hours earlier and Governor Mike Dunleavy  said they had been detained.

06:05 PM

Hundreds of Ukrainians trying to enter Estonia captured by Russia

Russian authorities have detained hundreds of Ukrainians near the Estonian border, the head of Ukraine's humans rights commission has said.

Most of those who fled the war through Russia and Crimea have been seeking entry into the EU - of which Estonia is a member - or finding a way home.

Dmytro Lubinets said in a post on his Facebook page that some travellers, who included women, the elderly, and children, were waiting to cross the Russia-Estonia border in cold, humid weather without proper clothes or food.

He said Russians "took them away on trucks to an unknown destination" on Wednesday, citing information from Estonia's Interior Ministry about the transfers.

05:47 PM

Joe Biden doesn't rule out meeting with Vladimir Putin

US President Joe Biden said it "remains to be seen" if he will hold direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit next month in Asia.

Travel plans for both men remain unconfirmed and the White House has said that if Putin attends the G20 summit, then Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, should also participate, even if Ukraine is not a member of the group.

Biden has previously indicated he would be "sure" to see his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping if he is at the summit scheduled for November 15 and 16.

It has been unclear whether Putin and Xi will attend.

05:32 PM

USAID official pays tribute to Ukraine's Fallen

USAID administrator Samantha Power visits the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Russian-Ukrainian War in Kyiv - REUTERS
USAID administrator Samantha Power visits the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Russian-Ukrainian War in Kyiv - REUTERS

USAID Administrator Samantha Power tweeted: "Today I met with young Ukrainians, many of them entrepreneurs.

"The founder of a design start-up said that after February 24 [when Russia invaded Ukraine], he pivoted to designing a bulletproof vest that's now protecting Ukrainian soldiers in Kherson."

05:11 PM

Russian opposition politician accused of treason

A Russian opposition politician who claimed Putin was bombing Ukrainian homes has been accused of treason and faces a sentence of up to 20 years, his lawyer told state-owned news agency RIA.

Vladimir Kara-Murza gave an address to the Arizona House of Representatives in which he said President Vladimir Putin was bombing Ukrainian homes, hospitals and schools.

His lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said a criminal case for treason had been opened against him in connection with  that  and two other public speeches.

04:57 PM

UN nuclear watchdog still views Zaporizhzhia as Ukrainian

International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi has said that the UN nuclear watchdog considered the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be a Ukrainian facility.

It comes after Vladimir Putin ruled that Europe's largest nuclear plant was Russia's "federal property".

Moscow captured the plant in southern Ukraine shortly after invading Ukraine.

Putin ordered his government on Wednesday to take control of it but Ukrainian staff have continued to operate it.

04:52 PM

Czech Republic 'annexes' Kaliningrad

Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová shared a satirical poster of Czech Republic's annexation of Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland.

04:24 PM

At least three killed in Zaporizhzhia blasts

At least three were killed and a toddler is among the injured after missiles attacks tore through high-rise buildings in Zaporizhzhia city.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed the strikes, saying that "Russians keep deliberately striking civilians to sow fear".

"Russian terror must be stopped - by force of weapons, sanctions and full isolation," he said on social media.

The Ukrainian-controlled city is located in the eponymous Zaporizhzhia region, also home to the Russian-occupied nuclear plant that has been the site of heavy shelling.

Moscow claimed to have annexed the region last week even though its forces do not control all of it.

04:21 PM

Zelensky says Ukraine is keeping Russia's tanks from Warsaw

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country must fend off Moscow's invasion "so that Russian tanks do not advance on Warsaw or again on Prague".

Addressing a meeting in Prague of European heads of state convened by French President Emmanuel Macron, Zelensky also called on Western capitals to supply his army with more weapons "to punish the aggressor".

04:20 PM

New EU sanctions on Russia

The EU expanded bans on trade and individuals in new sanctions over Moscow's annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

The measures, which came into force with their publication in the bloc's official administrative gazette, also pointed the way to an oil price cap on Russian crude transported around the world but only after details are worked out within the G7 group of nations.

04:11 PM

Norway limits access to Russian fishing vessels

Norway has banned Russian fishing vessels from visiting all but three of its ports where they must now undergo security checks.

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt told a news conference: "Russia's unacceptable annexations in Ukraine, the attacks against gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea and increased drone activity has led the government to further tighten security."

On why a full ban was not imposed, the government said joint management of fish stocks remained important.

02:51 PM

Belarus's eccentric dictator rules all price rises 'banned'

Alexander Lukashenko, the eccentric Belarusian dictator, has “banned” price rises in a desperate move to curb growing inflation, writes Nataliya Vasilyeva in Istanbul.

Mr Lukashenko, whose Kremlin-propped regime has been badly hit by Western sanctions, lashed out at his government for failing to curb inflation that currently stands at 13 per cent.

“Starting October 6, price increases are banned,” he yelled at his officials in a televised meeting.

“They are banned.”

Mr Lukashenko opened the meeting by assailing his cabinet for allowing prices to go up 13 per cent, with a projected rise of 19 per cent in 2022.

“So you’re planning to hike the prices even more by the end of the year, is that right?” he boomed as his officials looked down at their papers.

“13-14 per cent is already too much. Those who were supposed to curb the inflation, should have done it.”

Mr Lukashenko’s press office later said price increases will only be “allowed” with special permission from the economy minister or a local mayor.

After his unorthodox market intervention, Mr Lukashenko threatened officials with criminal charges if prices continued to rise. He also urged them to make sure “not a single shop or any eatery” shut down because of the freeze.

Mr Lukashenko, Belarus' president since 1994, has presided over a Soviet-style mixed economy where large chunks of industry are in government hands but basic market rules also apply.

The Lukashenko regime was on the brink of collapse amid nationwide protests in the summer of 2020, and has largely since survived on Russian loans and cheap energy supplies.

The Belarusian dictator is expected to travel to Moscow tomorrow for an informal meeting with Vladimir Putin who celebrates his 70th birthday.

02:46 PM

Zelensky backs new central bank chairman after sudden resignation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked parliament to approve banker Andriy Pyshnyi as the new chairman of the central bank.

Earlier on Thursday, the parliament formally accepted the resignation of Kyrylo Shevchenko, who abruptly submitted his resignation on Tuesday, citing health reasons.

02:37 PM

Exhausted soldiers tell of the battle for Lyman

"It was hard, really hard," said Oleksandr, a slim paratrooper with grey eyes and a small moustache, speaking about winning back Lyman in Donetsk, one of four regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed.

In a country lane near the strategic railway hub, bearded paratroopers wear blue ribbons on their forearms or chests.

Visibly tired and caked in mud, Oleksandr continued: "We were moving forward. We had no other choice. We're protecting our land."

Comrades flashed the V sign for victory while others raise hands to greet journalists and one young soldier admitted: "We are exhausted."

Bodies of Russian soldiers lay on the ground near the small town of Drobysheve, less than three miles from Lyman.

They "put up resistance" said another Ukrainian soldier, eating a bar of chocolate, "they didn't run straight away".

01:47 PM

'No hanging around' for Russia's weather forecasts

Newly annexed regions of Ukraine have appeared in Russian TV weather forecasts.

01:30 PM

Rents soar as 100,000s of Russians flee Army draft

Rents are soaring in central Asian nations as hundreds of thousands of Russians flee Vladimir Putin's mobilisation orders.

Kamar Karimova, a university professor in Kazakhstan's biggest city Almaty, had to move out of a rented apartment within a day when her landlord abruptly raised the monthly rent by 42 percent to 340,000 tenge (£642).

"Many of my friends, acquaintances and students ended up in similar situations," she said.

Rents have also soared in Georgia where some landlords have started adding a "no Russians" clause to their rental ads.

The Kazakh government said this week that more than 200,000 Russians had entered the country since Vladimir Putin's announcement last month, and some 147,000 had since left.

The Kremlin today denied reports that 700,000 Russians had fled the country since the mobilisation decree.

12:50 PM

Swedish probe fuels 'gross sabotage' suspicions behind Nord Stream 1 and 2

A crime scene investigation of the damages on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines has strengthened suspicions of "gross sabotage", Swedish security police have said.

"After completing the crime scene investigation, the Swedish Security Service can conclude that there have been detonations at Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the Swedish economic zone that have caused extensive damage to gas pipelines," they said in a statement.

Swedish and Danish authorities have been investigating four leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipes in Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones in the Baltic Sea, which connect Russia to Germany.

They said they had seized some material on site, which is no longer cordoned off, that it would now analyse.

12:22 PM

Russian retreat in 'annexed' Kherson equivalent to 75,000 football fields, says Ukraine

Ukraine claims to have recaptured more than 155 square miles in Kherson in less than a week, after Moscow said it had annexed the southern region.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated more than 400 square kilometres of the Kherson region since the beginning of October," Ukrainian southern army command spokeswoman Natalia Gumeniuk said in a briefing online.

12:09 PM

Moscow 'fully committed' to avoiding nuclear war

Moscow has said it remains "fully committed" to the principle of never allowing a nuclear war to be fought.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing that Moscow's position that a nuclear war must never be fought had not changed.

This is despite President Vladimir Putin having previously said he was "not bluffing" over his willingness to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia's territorial integrity.

Fears have grown over a possible dramatic escalation in the seven-month conflict with Ukraine.

12:03 PM

New Russian conscripts to face Kherson 'dilemma', British intelligence suggests

Russian reservists will be deployed to Kherson where commanders face a political-military "dilemma", British intelligence believes.

Defence of the southern region would be "more tenable" by withdrawing troops in the face of rapid Ukrainian advances, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

But with a "political imperative" to stay and defend, new reservists will likely be deployed to the shore up the region, said the MoD in an intelligence briefing this morning.

"Russia faces a dilemma: withdrawal of combat forces across the Dnipro makes defence of the rest of Kherson Oblast more tenable; but the political imperative will be to remain and defend", it said.

"Russia has committed the majority of its severely undermanned airborne forces, the VDV, to the defence of Kherson.

"Therefore, Russia currently has few additional, high quality rapidly deployable forces available to stabilise the front: it likely aims to deploy mobilised reservists to the sector."

While not yet threatening Russia' main defensive positions in Kherson, Ukrainian forces had advanced up to 12 miles since the beginning of their "new phase of offensive operations" on Tuesday, it said.

"Russian forces have typically broken contact and withdrawn. Russian commanders are likely to see the growing threat to the Nova Kakhovka sector as one of their most pressing concerns."

11:30 AM

UN nuclear watchdog chief visiting Kyiv and Moscow

Rafael Grossi, head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is set to visit Kyiv on Thursday and Moscow soon after.

The Kremlin has said it was preparing to welcome him, with his visit expected to focus on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located in southern Ukraine in territory that Russia has proclaimed its own.

11:26 AM

Kremlin claims US appears to agree that Ukraine was behind Dugina killing

The US appears to agree that Ukraine was behind the car bomb killing of Darya Dugina in a suburb of Moscow in August, the Kremlin has claimed.

Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked about a report in the New York Times that said US officials believe Ukraine was behind the attack, told reporters it was "positive" that the US appeared to agree with Moscow about Ukraine's alleged involvement in the assassination.

Kyiv on Thursday rejected the claims it was involved in the attack.

11:16 AM

Elon Musk claims 'eastern portions' of Ukraine 'prefer Russia'

Tesla chief Elon Musk has told his 108 million Twitter followers that "some eastern portions [of Ukraine] have Russian majorities and prefer Russia".

The world's richest man shared a map of the country and how its parliamentary constituencies voted in its 2012 elections.

It showed large sections of the south and east of Ukraine voted for the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

"Obviously, not everyone who voted for the pro-Russia party wanted to join Russia, but it would also be inaccurate to say that none did," Musk added.

10:12 AM

Ukraine: The Latest

10:03 AM

EU wants Prague meet to highlight Russia's isolation over war

The European Union wants the 44 countries gathering for an inaugural summit in Prague of the European Political Community (EPC) on Thursday to highlight Russia's international isolation over Moscow's war in Ukraine, the bloc's top diplomat said.

However, the summit will likely be dominated by differences about how to cap gas prices to contain soaring energy costs driven by the war that are taking the air out of the post-COVID economic recovery.

A brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, the EPC brings together the 27 member states of the European Union and 17 other countries, including several waiting to join the bloc and the only one ever to leave it, the United Kingdom.

"This meeting is a way of looking for a new order without Russia. It doesn't mean we want to exclude Russia forever, but this Russia, Putin's Russia, does not have a seat," he said.

09:37 AM

Rouble weakens further

The rouble weakened further past 60 to the dollar on Thursday having touched a two-week low in early trade, as a European Union plan for a price cap on Russian oil heightened risks that Russia's foreign currency inflows may decrease.

At 8.21am, the rouble was 0.3 percent weaker against the dollar at 60.36, after opening at 60.7775, its lowest mark since Sep 22.

It was unchanged at 58.38 versus the Euro, also clipping a two-week low in early trade.

"Contributing to the weakness of the rouble against the dollar, euro and yuan, was the continuing low activity by exporters, as well as heightened market uncertainty," said Promsvyazbank analysts in a note.

09:03 AM

In pictures: Ukraine today

Ukraine  - AP/Francisco Seco
Ukraine - AP/Francisco Seco
Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 
Ukraine - REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Ukraine - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Ukraine - Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

07:47 AM

This is Europe’s biggest crisis since 1945, PM to tell leaders

The Prime Minister will urge leaders to stand united in the face of Russian aggression as Europe faces “its biggest crisis since the Second World War”, when she addresses a regional summit in the Czech Republic today.

Liz Truss will attend the meeting of leaders from across Europe to shore up support for Ukraine and galvanise collective action on energy security and migration, delivering on UK priorities.

In a series of bilateral meetings in Prague, the Prime Minister will encourage countries to go further and faster to end Europe’s reliance on Russian hydrocarbons and “usher in a new era of resilience and independence”.

Ms Truss will say: “Europe is facing its biggest crisis since the Second World War. And we have faced it together with unity and resolve.

“We must continue to stand firm - to ensure that Ukraine wins this war, but also to deal with the strategic challenges that it has exposed.”

06:27 AM

US believes Ukrainians may have been behind car bomb that killed Darya Dugina

Parts of the Ukrainian government authorised a car bomb which killed the daughter of a key ally of Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the US believes, Rozina Sabur writes.

Kyiv has always denied responsibility for the attack of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, in August.

But US intelligence agencies have now concluded that the explosion was sanctioned by parts of the Ukrainian government in a closely held assessment shared within the US government last week, according to the New York Times.

US officials insisted Washington had no advance knowledge of the attack, nor did it provide intelligence or other assistance that led to it, according to the paper.

Read more: Ukrainians behind car bombing that killed daughter of key Putin ally, US believes

Darya Dugina was killed in August in an attack that was condemned by US officials - REUTERS
Darya Dugina was killed in August in an attack that was condemned by US officials - REUTERS

05:28 AM

Fire reported after shelling in Zaporizhzhia

Overnight shelling in Ukraine's city of Zaporizhzhia has damaged or destroyed several residential buildings, causing fires and injuries, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Thursday morning.

"As a result of the enemy attacks, fires broke out in the city," Mr Starukh wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"There are possible casualties. Rescuers are already pulling people out from under the rubble."

04:48 AM

US spends $290m on anti-radiation drugs

The US government has purchased a significant supply of radiation-injury drugs as the Russian president threatened the use of nuclear weapons, Lizzie Roberts and Jamie Johnson write.

A $290 million procurement of the drug Nplate, to treat acute radiation syndrome (ARS), was announced by the US Health and Human Services (HSS).

The government confirmed it was the first purchase of the drug, manufactured by the California pharmaceutical company Amgen.

The purchase comes after Vladimir Putin renewed his threat of nuclear war. In a speech last month he vowed to use “all the means at our disposal” to protect Russia and its people. “This is not a bluff,” he said.

Read more: US splashes $290m on anti-radiation drugs after Putin ups nuclear threats

04:18 AM

Kyiv retakes more annexed land

Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces have retaken more settlements in Kherson, one of the partially Russian-occupied southern regions that Moscow claims to have annexed.

With Russian forces retreating from front lines in the south and east, Mr Zelensky said in a late-night video address on Wednesday that Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka to the northeast of Kherson had been "liberated".

At the United Nations, Russia is lobbying for a secret ballot instead of a public vote next week when the 193-member UN General Assembly considers whether to condemn its annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south after staging referendums in the provinces.

Ukrainian troops in the liberated village of Drobysheve on Wednesday - GETTY IMAGES
Ukrainian troops in the liberated village of Drobysheve on Wednesday - GETTY IMAGES

03:34 AM

Ukraine could win back Crimea, says US

Ukraine could retake Crimea if it continues to recapture territory from fleeing Russian forces at its current rate, senior US military officials believe, Roland Oliphant, Con Coughlin and Verity Bowman write.

The assessment came as Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, acknowledged battlefield setbacks for the first time and Ukrainian troops pursued the Russian army into the Luhansk region, reversing one of the Kremlin’s key gains of the war.

Western officials have previously considered retaking Crimea by force impossible, because Russia was expected to fight tooth and claw to defend it.

But a senior US officer told The Telegraph that recent Russian military collapses mean “the recapture of Crimea by Ukraine is now a distinct possibility and can no longer be discounted”.

Read more: Ukraine could recapture Crimea as fleeing Russians continue to flounder

Ukraine forces in the town on Bakhmut on Wednesday - REUTERS
Ukraine forces in the town on Bakhmut on Wednesday - REUTERS

03:32 AM

Today's top stories

  • Ukraine could retake Crimea if it continues to recapture territory from fleeing Russian forces at its current rate, senior US military officials believe

  • Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, acknowledged battlefield setbacks for the first time and Ukrainian troops pursued the Russian army into the Luhansk region, reversing one of the Kremlin’s key gains of the war

  • Laura Cooper, US deputy assistant secretary of defence, said US weapons could be used to strike Crimea - a move the Kremlin has described as "extremely dangerous" and "evidence of direct US involvement in the conflict"

  • Putin signed a bill formalising Russia’s “annexation” of Luhansk and three other Ukrainian regions on Wednesday

  • He also ordered Russia’s state nuclear monopoly to take over the running of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

  • The US government has purchased a significant supply of radiation-injury drugs as the Russian president threatened the use of nuclear weapons