Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains “very risky” after two of its six reactors were reconnected to the grid following shelling that caused Europe’s largest nuclear power plant to be disconnected for the first time in its history. “Let me stress that the situation remains very risky and dangerous,” he said in his regular evening address on Friday, praising Ukrainian experts working to “avert the worst-case scenario.”
Residents near the Zaporizhzhia plant have reportedly been given iodine tablets, amid mounting fears that the fighting around the complex could trigger a catastrophe.
Zelenskiy said the world narrowly avoided a “radiation disaster” on Thursday when electricity to the Zaporizhzhia plant was cut for hours after fires broke out around the Russian-occupied complex in south-eastern Ukraine.
A team of inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog are poised to make an emergency visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to reports. Sources have told the Wall Street Journal it is “almost certain” that a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the plant early next week, although details are still being completed.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has announced plans to expand mandatory evacuations for civilians living on the war’s frontlines. Speaking on national television, she said evacuating women with children and elderly people would be a priority from some districts of the eastern Kharkiv region, and the southern Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv regions.
Ukrainian forces have struck an important bridge used by Russian occupying forces in the southern Kherson region, according to Ukraine’s southern military command. The Daryivskiy Bridge is the only Russian-controlled crossing across the Inhulets river, which splits the Russian-occupied land west of the Dnipro into two parts.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of president Vladimir Putin, said in a French television interview on Friday that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Zelenskiy subject to certain conditions, but warned Moscow would not stop its assault until its goals had been achieved. “Renouncing (Ukraine’s) participation in the North Atlantic alliance is now vital, but it is already insufficient in order to establish peace,” Medvedev told LCI television in quotes reported by Russian news agencies.
EU energy ministers will gather for an urgent meeting as soon as possible to discuss the energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Czech prime minister said. The Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Council.
Russia’s claim that it is deliberately slowing the pace of its military campaign in Ukraine is “almost certainly deliberate misinformation”, according to British intelligence. The latest UK Ministry of Defence report said Russia’s offensive had stalled “because of poor Russian military performance and fierce Ukrainian resistance”.
The Belarusian president has said his country’s SU-24 warplanes have been re-fitted to carry nuclear armaments. Alexander Lukashenko said he had previously agreed to the move with his Russian counterpart, Putin, and warned that his country was ready to respond to “serious provocation” from the west instantly.
Russia is burning off large amounts of natural gas that it would previously have exported to Germany while energy costs soar in Europe, the BBC has reported. According to the broadcaster, which cites an analysis by Rystad Energy, a plant near Russia’s border with Finland is burning an estimated £8.4m worth of gas every day.
The head of the UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem, has blamed Russia for driving up energy prices, resulting in the UK price cap rising by 80%. Ofgem on Friday approved a £1,578 increase on the current price cap of £1,971 for the average dual-fuel tariff.
The German ambassador to the UK has acknowledged there is a risk public support for Ukraine could wane this winter as the energy crisis intensifies. Putin was “using gas as a weapon” in the UK and all of Europe, Miguel Berger said. “He wants to test our resolve.”