UKRAINE UPDATE: 29 AUGUST 2022
War could last years, warns Germany; Nuclear plant situation ‘remains dangerous’ — Zelensky
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned the war in Ukraine ‘could last years’, telling a newspaper that Berlin is ready to support Kyiv for the long haul. The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ‘remains very risky, dangerous’, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned, even after two power units were reconnected to the country’s energy grid following an outage.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is working “despite provocations by occupying Russian forces,” state-owned operator Energoatom said. President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address that the International Atomic Energy Agency should be allowed to arrive “soonest” to help prevent further incidents. Several strikes have been reported near the plant in recent days.
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- European Gas Posts Sixth Weekly Gain as Supply Woes Intensify
- Why Ukraine debt relief isn’t matching funding needs: QuickTake
- A corner of Europe leans to living with power blackouts again
On the ground
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry reported that Russian forces had shelled its positions in the Sumy and Kharkiv regions. Fighting also continued in the Donbas near Slovyansk and Avdiivka, where Ukraine said its forces repulsed Russian attacks. Shelling was also reported in the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukrainian forces struck Russian military infrastructure in the south, destroying munitions depots in two locations near Kherson, according to Ukraine’s presidential office.
Safety systems working at nuclear plant, Ukraine tells IAEA
Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Thursday, Friday and Saturday hit buildings at the station that were just 100m from the reactor building, the IAEA said on Twitter, citing communication from the Ukrainian government. There was also damage to some water pipelines that have since been repaired, the IAEA said. All safety systems at the plant remain operational and radioactivity levels are normal, Ukraine told the IAEA.
EU set to suspend visa travel agreement with Russia: FT
European Union foreign ministers are poised to support a suspension of the bloc’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia in a bid to curb the number of tourists allowed from the country, the Financial Times reported.
EU countries bordering Russia have called for a ban on Russian tourists, but under a compromise reported by Bloomberg earlier, Russians travelling to the bloc would have to pay more and withstand additional bureaucracy to obtain short-term visas.
As an initial step, ministers will first show political support for the suspension of the accord at a meeting in Prague set to begin on Tuesday, the FT reported on Sunday, citing three officials involved in the talks.
German minister warns war ‘could last years’
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the war could drag on “for years” and pledged that the government in Berlin would continue to provide financial and military support to Ukraine “for as long as necessary”.
“Of course, I would like the war to be over as soon as possible, but regrettably we have to assume that Ukraine will still need new heavy weapons from its friends next summer,” Baerbock said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Unfortunately, the Russian government has not given up on its obsession with subjugating Ukraine and its people.”
The country’s finance minister, Christian Lindner, separately told the newspaper that the government needs to address soaring power prices “with the utmost urgency,” as a leading economist warned of a “gigantic shock” to Europe’s biggest economy.
Kazakhstan halts military exports to keep neutral
Kazakhstan’s defence industry commission, headed by Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, will pause the export of “arms, military vehicles and defence products” until the end of August 2023, according to a statement on the prime minister’s website.
Kazakhstan was once part of the Soviet Union, and both sides in the Ukraine war are seeking more military equipment. But central Asia’s largest energy producer is aiming to keep neutral and avoid secondary sanctions from the US or a backlash from Russia, its largest neighbour.
EU remains split over Russian tourist visas
France and Germany said that the EU should continue to issue visas to Russians not affiliated with the government — particularly students, artists, scholars and professionals — even as countries neighbouring Russia, including the Baltic nations and Finland, want the bloc to ban Russian tourists.
“While understanding the concerns of some member states in this context, we should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems at first hand, especially for future generations,” France and Germany wrote in a document seen by Bloomberg before next week’s gathering of EU foreign ministers in Prague.
One compromise plan that ministers are expected to discuss would mean that Russians travelling to the EU pay more and withstand additional bureaucracy to obtain short-term visas. DM