Below is an extract from a rare on-the-ground report from Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
“The presence of the IAEA task force is apparently not a deterrent,” writes Francesco Semprini for Italian daily La Stampa. “In recent days shelling intensified, including in surrounding areas. As in the Nikopol district, on the other side of the Dnipro River, exactly five kilometers from the plant. On Tuesday the electric towers were reached.
Semprini reports that the firing of missiles recommenced at 2 a.m. near the power plant. Local resident Anatoly, pushing his bicycle, explains: “We have to spend long hours in the basement to shelter, they started shelling on September 1’ — with the arrival of the IAEA inspectors,” he said. “The fear that in addition to the bombing there will be a nuclear accident is palpable, those who can, leave, like the young. But others do not.”
IAEA Experts To Stay Permanently At Nuclear Plant
Exterior view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
On Tuesday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to release a report on the nuclear safety and security situation in Ukraine, including its findings from their visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Its publication comes a day after the disconnection of the last operating reactor of the plant. This line, connected to a nearby thermal power plant, "was deliberately disconnected in order to extinguish a fire," the IAEA explained in a statement. But "it was not damaged" and should be reconnected as soon as possible.
According to the Ukrainian operator Energoatom, the fire "broke out because of the shelling". Bombing around the plant has been going on in the past few weeks, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Russia and Ukraine have continuously accused each other of the attacks.
After much negotiation, a delegation from the UN agency was able to visit the site of the plant last Thursday. After an inspection with his team, the mission’s chief Rafael Grossi told reporters that the "physical integrity" of the plant had been "violated on several occasions. This is "something that cannot continue to happen," he added. Most of the IAEA team left the plant on Friday and two experts are expected to stay permanently.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities are seeking a humanitarian corridor for the safe evacuation of residents of settlements located near the captured Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, but Russia has not yet agreed to the proposal.
Russia Pauses Kherson Referendum, Acknowledging Security Risks
In a rare admission of security risks, a referendum planned in Kherson to decide if the region will join Russia is being postponed. The move comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive celebrated another success as it recaptured the village of Vysokopillia in Kherson. Russia had captured the region in March, in the first week of its invasion.
Russian pro-government news agency TASS cited Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the military-civil administration of the occupied region in and around the southern city of Kherson: "We have prepared for the vote, we wanted to hold a referendum in the near future, but because of all the events that have happened now, I think that for now, we will take a pause," he said.
The situation in Kherson has been volatile for the past couple of weeks. Ukrainian troops have gone on the offensive, targeting warehouses with Russian equipment and ammunition and actively sabotaging Russian maneuvers in the area.
Ukraine Flag Flies Above Vysokopillia, As Russian Progress Stalls
Flag raised above the village of Vysokopillia
Reports have arrived that Ukraine took back the village of Vysokopillia in Kherson region on Sunday. The Ukrainian flag was raised over a hospital following the latest “success” in the Russia-occupation south. Yuriy Sobolevskyi, first deputy head of Kherson Oblast Council, declared on Telegram that Vysokopillia had been liberated.
As Ukraine’s counter-offensive continues in the south, Russian media are reporting heavy bombardments around the town of Nova Kakhovka on the Dnipro river.
Meanwhile in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, an apartment building was destroyed by Russian fire early Tuesday.
According to Ukrainian regional authorities, Russian forces continue to shell Ukrainian towns and villages across the Donetsk region, but have made no progress on the ground. Several towns in Donetsk were shelled on Monday, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, and four civilians were wounded. The regional administration said that a mandatory evacuation in much of Donetsk was still recommended. Despite daily bombardments by Russian artillery, air strikes and tank fire, there has not been much change on the front lines in Donetsk for several weeks.
Russia Reportedly Buying Weapons From North Korea
A Russian artillery unit serviceman operates a BM-21
Russian Defence Ministry/TASS
According to U.S. intelligence, the Russian Defense Ministry is buying millions of rockets and artillery munitions from North Korea for its ongoing fight in Ukraine. It’s the latest sign that the Russian military is still suffering from several supply shortages, mainly due to Western and global sanctions against the country.
The New York Times reveals that U.S. government officials believe the Russians may seek to purchase additional North Korean military equipment in the future. Mason Clark, the Russia team lead at the Institute for the Study of War said, “The Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea.”
Putin Unveils New “Russian World” Foreign Policy Doctrine
President Putin at Vostok
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new foreign policy doctrine that is based around the concept of a “Russian World.”
The “Russian World'' is a notion used by conservative ideologues to justify intervention abroad, such as Moscow’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and support for the breakaway pro-Russian entities in the east of the country.
The 31-page "humanitarian policy" released late Monday states that Russia should protect and provide support to its “compatriots living abroad in the fulfillment of their rights, to ensure the protection of their interests and the preservation of their Russian cultural identity.”
This corresponds to what Putin has been saying for years: what he sees as the “tragic fate” of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Russia continues to regard the former Soviet space, from the Baltics to Central Asia, as its legitimate sphere of influence. The new policy also says that Russia should increase its cooperation with these nations, as well as further strengthening its ties to the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.
Joe Biden Rejects Calling Russia “Sponsor Of Terror”
U.S. President Joe Biden
When asked by journalists on Monday whether Russia should be designated a “State Sponsor of Terror,” U.S. President Joe Biden tersely answered “No.”
Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian government has pushed for the U.S. and the international community to assign the label to Russia, a move that Moscow warned would definitively sever U.S.-Russian ties.
Russia Admits Nord Stream Pipeline Shutdown Was Retaliation Against Sanctions
Nord Stream 1
Russia has shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and will not resume gas deliveries to Europe until sanctions are lifted, said Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday. He added: "Pumping problems arose because of the sanctions imposed against our country and against a number of companies by Western states.” The NS1 is the biggest gas-carrying pipeline between Europe and Russia and has been operational since 2011.
Russia said the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was shut for maintenance, but it is now clear it is a direct retaliation to Western's sanctions. Western Europe is dealing with an energy crisis as winter approaches, but White House officials said cooperation between the U.S and Europe would alleviate the pressure: "The US and Europe have been collaborating to ensure sufficient supplies are available. As a result of these efforts, European gas storage will be full by the critical winter heating season."