Fears for safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants amid repeated attacks; Kyiv launches ‘grain from Ukraine’ scheme; Belarus foreign minister dies
There are growing fears Russia’s relentless targeting of Ukraine’s electricity grid will threaten the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants, in the wake of the unprecedented emergency shutdown on Wednesday. Petro Kotin, the president of Ukraine’s nuclear power company, Energoatom, said all safety mechanisms had worked as intended on Wednesday but two generators were damaged in the process.
Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of the country’s four nuclear plants, but millions of people are still without heat or electricity after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.
Russia kept up its onslaught on Ukrainian cities on Saturday with an attack on Dnipro which injured six people and destroyed seven houses, said the regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.
Thirty-two civilians have been killed in Kherson since 9 November, when Russian forces withdrew from the southern city they had occupied for eight months, the Kyiv Independent quoted Ukraine’s national police chief, Ihor Klymenko, as saying. Since then, Russian troops have shelled Kherson frequently.
Ukraine accused the Kremlin of reviving the “genocidal” tactics of Josef Stalin as Kyiv commemorated a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy hosted a summit in Kyiv with allied nations on Saturday to launch a “grain from Ukraine” initiative to export $150m worth of grain to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought. Up to 60 Ukrainian grain ships can be sent by the middle of next year to some of the world’s poorest countries in Africa, the Ukrainian president has said in a statement released to the Guardian.
Belarus’s long-time foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, has died. Belarus has been an ally of Russia and a base over the border for the invasion of Ukraine. Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel that “we are shocked by the reports of the death”. Makei had been due to meet Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Minsk on Monday.
The prime ministers of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine – Ingrida Šimonytė, Mateusz Morawiecki and Denys Shmyhal, respectively – met in Kyiv on Saturday for talks to discuss and reiterate their commitment to work together “in countering Russia’s armed aggression”.
Russia is firing ageing cruise missiles stripped of their nuclear warheads at Ukrainian targets because Vladimir Putin’s stocks are so depleted, the UK Ministry of Defence has suggested. An intelligence update from the ministry on Saturday said the desperate improvisation by the Russian president’s struggling forces were “unlikely to achieve reliable effects”.