World

UKRAINE UPDATE: 23 MAY 2023

Russia battles incursion by ‘saboteurs’; Zaporizhzhia atomic reactor reconnected to power grid

Russia battles incursion by ‘saboteurs’; Zaporizhzhia atomic reactor reconnected to power grid
The aftermath of Russian shelling on an Emergency Service point in the city of Dnipro, Ukraine, on 22 May 2023. One rescuer was injured and more than 20 State Emergency Service equipment units were destroyed. (Photo: EPA-EFE / State Emergency Service Handout)

The Kremlin said Russian forces were repelling ‘saboteurs’ who crossed the border from Ukraine, the second such incident reported by Moscow in two months. Ukraine said an operation was being carried out by Russian volunteer militias.

A Russian-occupied nuclear power plant outside the southeast Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia lost power on Monday and had to rely on emergency generators before operations were restored.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said his government intended to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s “sooner rather than later” after the US relented on allowing the fighter jet training to start. France repeated its willingness to participate as well, as European Union ministers met in Brussels.

Ukraine reported damage to dozens of buildings and vehicles in the central city of Dnipro after another barrage of Russian missiles was unleashed overnight.

 

 

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Russian forces were taking control of the eastern city of Bakhmut after months of fighting, as skirmishes continued.

Latest developments

Ukraine’s Russian-occupied atomic reactor in new power outage

A Russian-occupied nuclear-power plant outside the southeast Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia lost power on Monday and had to rely on emergency generators before operations were restored.

It was the seventh time the six reactors of Europe’s biggest nuclear plant had been disconnected from the electricity grid since being seized by Russia’s invading forces, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said. Even when the reactors are shut down, as is the case in Ukraine, nuclear facilities need uninterrupted power flows to pump and circulate the water needed to regulate atomic reactions.

Ukraine’s nuclear utility, Energoatom, said via Telegram that Russian shelling disrupted power transmission at 5.26am local time, but “the risk of a nuclear and radiation incident had been minimised” after engineers repaired the fault. Zaporizhzhia’s sole external electricity link still connects to Ukraine’s grid.

Attempts by the Kremlin-controlled nuclear giant Rosatom to connect the plant to electricity networks in Russian-controlled territory have so far failed. That’s left Zaporizhzhia extremely vulnerable, IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi wrote on Twitter.

A further risk lies in plans for a Ukrainian counteroffensive that could attack Zaporizhzhia and on to the southern city of Melitopol. Petro Kotin, the president of Energoatom, suggested earlier his country’s forces could lay siege to the plant to force a Russian capitulation. 

The fate of Zaporizhzhia has been a key flashpoint because of the potential international radiological fallout from a meltdown. After months of effort, the IAEA last month abandoned efforts to create a security zone around the plant. Agency monitors continue to be stationed inside the facility to report safety hazards.  

 

 

 

Kremlin says Russia repelling border incursion from Ukraine

Russian forces were battling attackers who had crossed over the border from Ukraine, the Kremlin said, in the second such incursion reported by Moscow in two months.

President Vladimir Putin received reports from the Defence Ministry and security officials about the attack by “Ukrainian saboteurs” in the Belgorod region of Russia, which borders Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, according to Russian news services. Russia had sufficient forces in the region to repel and destroy the attackers, he said.

The operation was being carried out by Russian volunteer militias, Andriy Yusov, Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, said in an interview with Ukraine’s Suspilne broadcaster. The “Freedom of Russia Legion” and the “Russian Volunteer Corps” entered the Belgorod region to create a “security strip” to protect Ukrainian civilians, he said.

Earlier, Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on his Telegram channel that a “sabotage and reconnaissance group” of the Ukrainian armed forces had entered the area and that the Russian military, with border guards, were taking “necessary measures to eliminate the enemy”. 

Russian broadcaster RT reported gunfire and smoke coming from the town of Graivoron in the Belgorod region close to the border.

In March, Russia accused Ukraine of a sabotage attack on a village in the Byransk region near the Ukrainian border that killed two civilians and wounded a 10-year-old boy. Kyiv denied the claim, calling it an attempt by Russian authorities to build up public support for Moscow’s invasion. DM

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