Sat, 01 Oct 2022

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to address the crisis at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, the power plant that Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of having bombed, diplomatic sources said. Read about the day's events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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5:27am: Russian-backed separatist leader says Azov trial to begin this summer

Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed separatist administration in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region said on Wednesday that a trial of captured personnel from Ukraine's Azov Regiment would take place by the end of the summer, likely in the city of Mariupol.

The Azov Regiment, a unit of Ukraine's national guard with far-right and ultranationalist origins, garnered international attention for its resistance to the Russian siege of Mariupol's vast steelworks.

After fighting for weeks from the bunkers and tunnels below the steel works, hundreds of Azov fighters surrendered in May to Russian-backed forces.

Though the Azov prisoners have not yet been formally charged, on Aug. 2 Russia's supreme court ruled the regiment was a terrorist organisation, clearing the way for captured fighters to be charged as such.

Ukraine, which has itself tried and convicted a string of Russian soldiers for war crimes committed against civilians, says the Azov captives are prisoners of war, deserving of protection under the Geneva Conventions.

02:20am: Russian advance stalls in Donbas

"The Russians continue to press in the Donbas region, but for the last month or so, they've made very little progress," reports FRANCE 24's Chief Foreign Editor Rob Parsons. "We're talking about kilometres in single figures. It's very hard and they're taking heavy losses."

The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson region has further complicated the military situation for Russia, Parsons explains:

August 11, 12:48am: Crimea blast comes soon after Zelensky vows to retake peninsula

Tetyana Ogarkava, journalist at the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre, says the coincidence suggests a Ukrainian strike on the air base, though Russia has denied this and Kyiv has also declined to take responsibility.

11:33pm: Ukraine accuses Russia of using nuclear plant for deadly rocket attack

Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of firing rockets from around a captured nuclear power plant, killing at least 13 people and wounding 10, in the knowledge it would be risky for Ukraine to return fire.

The town Ukraine says Russia targeted - Marhanets - is one Moscow says its foes have used in the past to shell Russian soldiers at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which they seized in March.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of imperilling the plant, Europe's largest nuclear complex, with attacks nearby.

After the United Nations atomic energy watchdog sounded the alarm over a potential nuclear disaster, the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries on Wednesday told Russia to hand back the plant to Ukraine.

There were no indications that their demand will sway Moscow.

9:51pm: Ukraine's armed forces will respond to Russian shelling of town, Zelensky says

Ukraine's armed forces will respond to the Russian shelling of the town of Marhanets, which killed 13 people and wounded 10 on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address.

Zelenskiy also said Ukraine needed to consider how to inflict as much damage as possible on Russian forces and thereby shorten the war.

8:40pm: UN Security Council to discuss Ukraine nuclear plant crisis

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to address the crisis at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, the power plant that Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of having bombed, diplomatic sources said.

A source in the Security Council presidency, currently held by China, told AFP on Wednesday that the meeting would occur August 11 at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT).

A second diplomatic source at United Nations headquarters in New York said the council's 15 member nations would gather at the request of Russia, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- along with Britain, China, France and the United States -- which hold veto power over UN resolutions.

8:21pm: First Ukrainian wheat shipments expected next week, UN says

The first wartime wheat from Ukraine should ship next week under a landmark deal also signed by Russia aimed at tackling the global food crisis, a top UN official said on Wednesday.

The first 12 ships to leave the three Black Sea ports designated by the agreement were carrying 370,000 tonnes of corn and foodstuffs, according to Frederick Kenney, interim UN coordinator at the joint centre in Istanbul overseeing the deal.

But that should change once the ships docked in Ukraine when Russian invaded its neighbour in February leave their ports and new ones come in to pick up wheat that has accumulated with this year's harvest, Kenney told reporters. "We are dealing with three ports that were essentially frozen in time," Kenney said. "The silos were full of corn and the ships that were there have been loaded with corn," he continued.

5:28pm: Ukraine's creditors agree 2-year freeze on $20 billion overseas debt

Ukraine's overseas creditors have backed its request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20 billion in international bonds, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday, a move that will allow the war-torn country to avoid a debt default.

With no sign of peace or a ceasefire on the horizon nearly six months after Russia's invasion began on February 24, bondholders have agreed to postpone sovereign interest and capital payments for 13 Ukrainian sovereign bonds maturing between 2022 and 2033.

The government in Kyiv launched a consent solicitation, which is a formal request to agree with creditors on changes to sovereign debt contracts, on July 20.

5:10pm: Ukraine says it made bridge in Russian-held Kherson region 'unusable'

The Ukrainian army said Wednesday it struck and made unusable a bridge in the Russian-held Kherson region, after hitting another key bridge in the same area a few days before.

A "precise and efficient strike" against a bridge near the Kakhovka hydropower plant made it "unusable", the Operational Command "South" said on Facebook.

Another bridge in the same region, the Antonivskiy bridge - deemed to be strategic for Russian military logistics - was hit a few days earlier, the Ukrainian armed forces had reported on Monday.

4:41pm: China calls US 'main instigator' of Ukraine crisis

China, which Russia has sought as an ally since being cold-shouldered by the West over its invasion of Ukraine, has called the United States the "main instigator" of the crisis.

In an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS published on Wednesday, China's ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, accused Washington of backing Russia into a corner with repeated expansions of the NATO defence alliance and support for forces seeking to align Ukraine with the European Union rather than Moscow.

"As the initiator and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continues to supply arms and military equipment to Ukraine," Zhang was quoted as saying.

"Their ultimate goal is to exhaust and crush Russia with a protracted war and the cudgel of sanctions."

2:23pm: Russian authorities raid home of TV protester who denounced Ukraine invasion

Russian authorities on Wednesday raided the home of a former state TV journalist who quit after making an on-air protest against Moscow's war in Ukraine, and launched a criminal case against her on the charge of spreading false information about the Russian armed forces, her lawyer said on social media.

The case against Marina Ovsyannikova was launched under a law, enacted after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, that penalises statements against the military, lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said. A conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Zakhvatov told the independent news site Meduza that the case is likely linked to a protest Ovsyannikova staged last month, holding a banner that said "(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists."

He said on Telegram that after the raid Ovsyannikova is expected to be brought into the Investigative Committee for questioning.

2:23pm: Volunteers hold cleanup 'raves' to rebuild Ukraine

For young people in Ukraine, it's a compromise between summer music festivals and the massive rebuilding effort taking place.

>> Read further: DJ sets and debris: Volunteers hold cleanup 'raves' to rebuild Ukraine

11:59am: Denmark to train Ukrainian soldiers

Denmark will send military instructors to Britain to help train Ukrainian soldiers and also offer to train Ukrainian officers on its soil, the Danish defence ministry said on Wednesday.

"Denmark will support a British-led training project with 130 Danish soldiers and at the same time offer to train Ukrainian soldiers in Denmark," a ministry statement said.

The instructors will provide basic military training, including urban combat and tactical operations, to Ukrainian soldiers with zero to limited military experience.

Denmark has contributed to both British and Canadian training missions in Ukraine since 2015 and provided weapons and cyber security support to Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbour in February.

08:39am: Blasts at Crimea air base 'a psychological setback for Russia'

Tuesday's explosions at a Russian military base in Crimea - whether due to Russian incompetence or not - will undeniably deal a blow to Russian morale as images of the powerful blasts are now seeping back to Russia via social media. Videos posted online shows sunbathers on nearby beaches fleeing as huge flames and pillars of smoke rose over the horizon from multiple points.

"The word is of course getting back to Russia, despite the efforts of Russian television to try to calm people down and to persuade them that this is all Ukrainian propaganda," FRANCE 24's Chief Foreign Editor Rob Parsons explained. "There is no doubt that for Russian morale this is a bit of a blow."

07:35am: Russia has 'almost certainly' established new major ground force, UK says

Russia has "almost certainly" established a major new ground forces formation to support its operations in Ukraine, Britain said on Tuesday.

The unit, called the 3rd Army Corps, is based out of the city of Mulino, east of Russia's capital Moscow, the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

The update also added that Russian commanders continued to face "competing operational priorities" of reinforcing its offensive in the eastern Donbas region, as well as strengthening its defence against Ukrainian counterattacks in south.

07:05am: Russian shelling kills 13 in Dnipropetrovsk region

Russian shelling has killed 13 people in Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, governor Valentyn Reznychenko said on Wednesday.

Reznychenko initially put the casualties at 21, with 11 killed in the district of Nikopol, near Europe's largest nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia, and 10 in the town of Marganets. But in a subsequent messages on the Telegram messaging app he revised the number, but without clarifying which initial details were incorrect.

The Zaporizhzhia plant was shelled over the weekend, prompting strong reactions from both the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who warned of the dangers of a potential nuclear disaster. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the attacks.

2:18am: One killed in blasts at Russian air base in Crimea

Local authorities said one person was killed on Tuesday in blasts at a Russian air base in the annexed Crimean peninsula. Moscow said the explosions were detonations of stored ammunition, not the result of any attack.

Witnesses said they had heard at least 12 explosions around 3:20 p.m. local time (1220 GMT) on Tuesday from the Saky air base near Novofedorivka on the west coast of the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and used in February as one of the launchpads for its invasion.

1:05am: Russia says Crimea airbase blast was ammo detonation, not attack

Moscow insisted Tuesday that major blasts at a key military airbase on the Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula were caused by exploding ammunition rather than Ukrainian fire.

Dramatic amateur footage shared on social media appeared to show panicked holidaymakers fleeing a Crimean beach with young children, as ballooning clouds of grey smoke rose over the horizon.

The blasts rocked the Saki airfield on the 167th day of Moscow's invasion.

12:44am: Zelensky aide: Ukraine not responsible for Crimea blasts

Ukraine is not taking responsibility for explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky said, suggesting partisans might have been involved.

Mykhailo Podolyak, asked by the Dozhd online television channel whether Kyiv was taking responsibility, replied: "Of course not. What do we have to do with this?"

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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