Ukraine conflict – day 169: Zaporizhzhia 'radiation sensors damaged', devastation at Crimea air base
Updated 01:16, 12-Aug-2022
People visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons in Lviv, Ukraine. /Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters

People visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons in Lviv, Ukraine. /Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters


Satellite pictures from independent firm Planet Labs showed three near-identical craters where buildings at Russia's Saki air base had been struck with apparent precision. The base, on the southwest coast of Crimea, suffered extensive fire damage with the burnt-out husks of at least eight destroyed warplanes clearly visible. Russia has denied aircraft were damaged and said explosions at the base were accidental. Ukraine has not publicly claimed responsibility for the attack or said exactly how it was carried out.

Continued hostilities around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could "lead to disaster," the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned. "Regrettably, instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster," Guterres said in a statement.

Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has damaged "several radiation sensors", Ukraine's nuclear agency said. Energoatom said the new strikes were close to one of the Russian-controlled Ukrainian plant's six reactors and there was "extensive smoke", adding that "several radiation sensors are damaged."

Russia and Ukraine accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ahead of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to address global concerns over the facility. Both the Russians and Ukrainians say radiation levels at the plant were normal. READ MORE BELOW

Russia has doubled the number of air strikes on Ukraine's military positions and civilian infrastructure compared with the previous week, Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov said. "The enemy's planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defenses, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low," he told a news conference.

Russia condemned a resolution by Latvia's parliament that designated Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism."  Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram: "Considering that there is no substance, except for animalistic xenophobia, behind this decision, it is necessary to call the ideologues nothing more than neo-Nazis."

The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal last week docked in Turkey, marine traffic sites showed, following a report that it has finally found a buyer for its maize. READ MORE BELOW

McDonald's announced plans for a "phased" partial reopening of restaurants in Ukraine, where operations have been shuttered since February due to the conflict. The U.S. burger chain will "reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine, where other businesses have safely reopened," Paul Pomroy, senior vice president for international operated markets, said in a message to employees.

• ​​German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was seeking to shore up interest among European partners for a gas pipeline funneling energy from southern to central Europe, as Germany scrambles to wind down Russian energy.

A Russian court placed former state TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine live on air, under house arrest until October. Investigators had detained Ovsyannikova, 44, and charged her with spreading information about the Russian armed forces deemed false by the government. 

A satellite image shows destroyed Saky air base in Crimea. /Planet Labs PBC handout/Reuters

A satellite image shows destroyed Saky air base in Crimea. /Planet Labs PBC handout/Reuters


G7 warns Russian control of Zaporizhzhia facility 'endangers the region'

Ukraine accused Russia of carrying out rocket strikes that killed 14 civilians in areas near a nuclear power plant, as the G7 warned that Russian control of the facility "endangers the region."

Overnight strikes in the Dnipro region in central Ukraine killed 13 people and injured 11, with five reported to be in a serious condition, Regional Governor Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. "It was a terrible night," he said, urging residents to shelter when they hear air raid sirens. "I am asking and begging you... Don't let the Russians kill you," he wrote.

A woman died after Russian missiles slammed into a village in the Zaporizhzhia region, local Governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on Telegram.

Most of the casualties were in the town of Marganets, just across the Dnipro River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's biggest. Regional council head Mykola Lukashuk said the strikes had hit a local power line, leaving thousands of people without electricity.

The G7 industrialized nations condemned Russia's occupation and called on Moscow to immediately hand back full control of the Zaporizhzhia plant. Ukrainian staff operating the plant must be able to work "without threats or pressure" and Russia's control of the plant "endangers the region," the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement.

The strikes came a day after major blasts at the Saki airfield, a key military base on the Crimea peninsula. Moscow insisted that the explosions were caused by detonating ammunition rather than Ukrainian fire and Ukraine has not claimed responsibility.

A combine harvests wheat in a field near the village of Zghurivka in Kyiv region, Ukraine. /Viacheslav Musiienko/Reuters

A combine harvests wheat in a field near the village of Zghurivka in Kyiv region, Ukraine. /Viacheslav Musiienko/Reuters

UN: 'We are dealing with three ports that were frozen in time'

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.

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 started its military campaign 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. It's imperative to get those ships out to get new ships in… that can deal with the food crisis."

The agreement, signed by the warring parties and UN and Turkish officials last month in Istanbul, was hailed as a major opportunity to tackle the global food crisis caused by the war.

But Ukraine needed to first deal with the corn – much of it used as animal feed – that was contractually agreed with global clients at the time of Russia's offensive.

"We're actually transitioning to wheat. We have cleared the first ship inbound" to Ukraine through the Bosphorus Strait, Kenney said. "That should occur sometime next week."

Source(s): AFP ,Reuters

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