Ukraine-Russia war latest: Physical integrity of Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear plant violated, UN inspectors warn

Moment of explosion in Enerhodar near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The physical integrity of Ukraine’s Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had been violated amid heavy shelling from both sides, the UN nuclear agency chief Dr Rafael Grossi said on Thursday.

“It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated, several times … this is something that cannot continue to happen,” Dr Grossi said.

Vehicles transporting members of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspection mission were seen zooming past on roads outside Zaporizhzhia city as the team visited Europe’s biggest nuclear facility after a long wait.

The atomic watchdog’s head said he will continue to worry about the tense situation at the nuclear power plant till the fighting stabilised.

Intense fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region did not halt for the visit of the top UN official, whose team ignored nearby gunfire to inspect the power plant on Thursday. The experts are likely to stay at the facility for some days.

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Russian shelling continues in Kharkiv

Ukrainian officials have confirmed shelling by Russian forces in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv city this morning.

The shelling was reported from Kholodnohirskyi District at around 6am by Kharkiv’s mayor Ihor Terekhov.

At least four cars have been damaged but no casualties have been reported so far, as per the initial information.

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Nuclear plant’s physical integrity violated, says UN inspector

Officials from the UN’s atomic watchdog visiting the Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant said that the physical integrity of Europe’s critical infrastructure has been harmed.

“It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated, several times … this is something that cannot continue to happen,” director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr Rafael Grossi said.

The IAEA team reached the power plant site after getting delayed by several hours due to heavy shelling in the region. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, captured by Russia within days of invasion,  has been witnessing heavy firing from both sides — Ukraine and Russia — for months now.

“This morning the situation was pretty difficult but … having come this far, I was not going to stop,” Dr Grossi, who himself came uncomfortably close to the gunfire, said.

“There were moments where fire was obvious, heavy machine gun, artillery mortars, at two or three times (it was) really very concerning I would say for all of us,” he said.

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3 killed, 5 wounded in Ukraine’s Enerhodar

At least three people have been killed and five wounded in Ukrainian shelling of Enerhodar, Russia-installed Zaporizhzhia oblast governor Yevgeny Balitsky said.

A residential building was also struck by shelling in Russia-controlled Enerhodar on the Dnipro river and witnesses reported soldiers running about with helicopters flying overhead. The casualties from the shelling were not immediately clear.

Officials in Ukraine reported heavy shelling late yesterday and said around a dozen southern towns had come under Russian attack, including regions like Kharkiv in the north and Donetsk in the east.

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Zelensky calls for demilitarisation, full control of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for all troops to be removed from the critical nuclear power plant site in Enerhodar as a group of UN nuclear agency officials visited the Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday.

He said that the nuclear power plant will only return to completely safe functioning after the Russian military is finally made to leave the territory, “when they take away their weapons, ammunition, when they stop shelling Enerhodar and neighbouring areas and cease their provocations”.

Mr Zelensky added: “And the key thing that should happen is the demilitarisation of the territory of the plant. This is exactly the goal of Ukrainian and international efforts. And it is bad that we have not yet heard the appropriate calls from the IAEA.”

Stating that the IAEA has not helped Ukraine by calling for demilitarisation, the Ukrainian president said: “Although we talked about it with Mr Grossi [IAEA chief] at our meeting in Kyiv. This was the key – the key! – security point of our agreements. It was clearly stated: demilitarisation and full control by Ukrainian nuclear specialists.”

On the Russian side, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was doing everything to ensure that the plant could operate safely, and for the IAEA inspectors to be able to complete their tasks.

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Good morning! Welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war for Friday, 2 September.

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