UKRAINE UPDATE: 6 SEPTEMBER 2022
Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant cut off from grid; Russia sanctions Ben Stiller and Sean Penn
The last remaining powerline connecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the Ukrainian grid was disconnected on Monday after a fire caused by Russian shelling.
The unit is only feeding electricity to the plant itself for in-house needs, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator Energoatom said on Telegram in a statement announcing the cut. Fighting near the plant makes it impossible to carry out repairs at the moment, Ukrainian energy minister Herman Halushchenko said on Facebook. During previous powerline cuts, the plant received backup from its diesel generators.
Separately, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is visiting Brussels for the EU-Ukrainian Association Council.
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On the ground
Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in areas close to Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s General Staff said in its morning update on Facebook. Russian troops were conducting defensive operations on the Southern Buh axis, while to the north they continued to shell parts of the Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv regions, according to the statement. Separately, the Institute for the Study of War said over the weekend there was “verifiable progress” in the east and in the south of Ukraine as Ukrainian forces were advancing in several directions and securing territory. “Ukrainian flags are returning to the places where they should be by right,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said after meeting military commanders over the weekend.
Russia sanctions Ben Stiller and Sean Penn
Russia banned 25 US citizens, including actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn, from entering the country in an escalating sanctions row over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The list, which also includes senators and analysts at think tanks, is “in response to the ever-expanding personal sanctions by the Biden administration against Russian citizens,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a website statement.
The statement didn’t elaborate on how the list was formed. Both actors have travelled to Ukraine and met with Zelensky after the invasion, with Stiller telling the Ukrainian leader in June, “You’re my hero” and Penn calling for donations during a visit in March.
Zaporizhzhia disconnected from grid – Energoatom
Energoatom, the state company that manages Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, announced the news about the plant on Telegram.
“Within the past three days Russian occupying forces have continued intensive shelling of the territory around the Zaporizhzhya NPP,” the regulator said, adding that three power lines had been damaged.
“Today a fire was caused by shelling,” it said. “Thus another power line was disconnected. It was the last line that connected NPP with the energy system of Ukraine!”
Latvian president suggests Orthodox Church should be independent
President Egils Levits said in a statement that he has proposed legislation to make the country’s Russian Orthodox Church independent of Moscow.
Latvia’s public broadcaster said the local church has about 250,000 members and 128 congregations in the nation of 1.9 million people. The UK sanctioned Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill in June for his support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kherson annexation vote on hold, says official
A Russian-installed occupation official said plans for a referendum to join Russia have been put on hold in the Kherson region due to the security situation, Tass reported.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the local occupation administration, said the vote had been planned for the immediate future but had been put off as a result of “all the events that are happening now”.
Russia had planned for votes in Kherson and the other occupied regions as early as this month but no dates have yet been announced as its forces struggle on the battlefield. Last month, people familiar with the planning said the referendums might be put off until late this year. Ukrainian forces are trying to advance in the Kherson region, which Russia occupied shortly after the start of the invasion.
Ukraine, EU sign budget support programme
The European Commission and Ukraine signed a €500-million budget support programme. This grant funding is part of earlier pledges made by EU leaders in April and May, and aims to help ensure housing and education for internally displaced persons and returnees. It also seeks to support Ukraine’s agriculture sector.
Nord Stream halt caused by sanctions – Kremlin
“There are no other reasons that would lead to problems” with gas supplies via Nord Stream, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated to reporters on a conference call.
Flows were due to resume on Saturday after three days of maintenance of the sole functional gas turbine at Portovaya compressor station, the starting point of Nord Stream on Russia’s side. But Russia’s gas giant Gazprom said on Friday a technical issue had been found and the pipeline can’t operate again until it’s fixed.
Since sanctions by European nations, including Germany and the UK, remain in place and bring “absolute confusion” to everything related to maintenance, “for now, the only hope is for this unit and that it will be somehow possible to fix it”, Peskov said.
French official says sanctions are taking effect
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Russia’s shrinking output shows that sanctions work and that further measures against individuals were possible.
France is also being vigilant in trying to ensure that countries that have not introduced sanctions against Russia, such as Turkey, are not used to avoid the ones put in place by the EU, she said in an interview on RTL radio.
EU to debate radical energy intervention tools
EU governments are considering unorthodox measures to rein in soaring power and gas prices, including gas-price caps and a temporary suspension of power derivatives trading.
The Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency through December, is set to include those tools on a list of potential emergency intervention options, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg News. The document will be a starting point for discussions when energy ministers gather on Friday for an extraordinary meeting to address spiking electricity prices and Russia’s moves to limit natural gas supplies to Europe. DM