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Ukraine Latest: US Urges ‘Controlled Shutdown’ of Nuclear Plant

·8 min read

(Bloomberg) -- A US spokesman said a “controlled shutdown” of the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant would be the safest option amid continued shelling around Europe’s largest such facility.

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International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will lead an inspection of the plant, with his team expected to reach Kyiv on Monday evening. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned over the weekend that the situation at the plant remains dangerous, even after two power units were reconnected to the grid following a power failure.

Zelenskiy accused Russia of trying to create a global sense of fatigue about its invasion, including by restricting the flow of gas to drive energy prices higher.

The European Union is working on “an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market” to drive down spiking power prices, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the bloc’s executive arm. With power-plant outages further sapping supply, the EU’s energy ministers will meet in Brussels on Sept. 9 to seek a bloc-wide solution.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Europe Nears Gas Storage Target Early Despite Russian Supply Cut

  • France, Germany Want to Hit Support for Putin With TikTok, Visas

  • IAEA Monitors Will Visit Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant This Week

  • Why Ukraine’s Big Nuclear Plant Raises Worries Again: QuickTake

  • EU to Propose New Training Mission to Boost Ukraine’s Military

On the Ground

The Ukrainian army launched a promised counter-offensive in numerous areas in the south of Ukraine, Natalia Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for the military’s southern command, said. She vowed that “we will lead it to the end.” Officials said two people were killed and 24 injured by Russian missiles in Mykolayiv on the Black Sea. Russia hit Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv again, regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram, while in Donbas several Russian attempts to conduct assaults in the vicinity of Slovyansk, Bakhmut and Avdiivka were unsuccessful, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Facebook.

(All times CET)

US Seeks ‘Controlled Shutdown’ of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant (9:49 p.m.)

The US believes that shutting down Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is the “safest and least risky option,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, amid renewed reports of shelling around Europe’s largest nuclear facility.

The plant’s reactors were taken offline briefly last week after fires broke out around the plant, which is now under Russian control. Both sides accuse the other of launching dangerous attacks nearby.

The nuclear plant is a major source of Ukraine’s energy although Russia may be trying to shift its output to its own grid.

Zelenskiy Says ‘It Is Time for Russian Soldiers to Run Away’ (9:46 p.m.)

As Ukraine began a promised counter-offensive in the south, President Zelenkskiy says his government won’t be spelling out its strategy or tactics.

“Some want to know what plans we have,” he said in a statement. “You are not going to hear details from any responsible person because this is war and this is how it works. But occupants must know: We will chase them to our borders, the line of which does not change. It is time for Russian soldiers to run away. Go home.”

France, Germany Want to Beat Russian Doctrine With TikTok, Visas (9:16 p.m.)

Germany and France want the European Union to drive a wedge between President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people with a campaign to counter propaganda within Russia and a visa policy that signals Europe is still open to ordinary citizens.

In an unofficial paper titled “Defending the international order in an age of systemic rivalry: EU-Russia relations,” France and Germany say the EU needs to continue exploring “creative ways” to allow for the dissemination of independent information to and within Russia, according to a copy of the document seen by Bloomberg.

The countries also call for open channels of communication with the Russian government, even as they urge broadening sanctions against Russian officials and continued financial and military support for Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

Russian Missiles Hit Mykolayiv, Killing Two, Governor Says (7:02 p.m.)

Russian missile attacks killed two people and injured 24 people in Mykolayiv in the afternoon, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

The city, including residential buildings in its central district, was hit by 12 missiles, he said. Mykolayiv is a southern port city on the Black Sea, near the occupied Kherson region.

Ukraine Expects IAEA Team in Kyiv on Monday (6:05 p.m.)

The mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to arrive in Kyiv on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said in a statement. The team including 14 international experts will start working at the Zaporizhzhia plant in coming days, he said.

Ukrainian Ex-Lawmaker Collaborating with Russia Is Murdered (5:25 p.m.)

Oleksiy Kovalyov, an ex-lawmaker from President Zelenskiy’s party who left Kyiv to help Russian occupation forces in Ukraine’s south, was murdered Sunday, according to a statement by Russia’s Investigative Committee on Telegram.

Kovalyov, who ran an agriculture business in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, became deputy-head of the Russian-installed authority in the region. Kovalyov, so far the highest-ranking collaborator with Russian forces to be murdered, died in an apparent gun attack at his home together with his partner, the committee said.

Zelenskiy Warns of Global Fatigue From Russian Invasion (4:20 p.m.)

Russia is trying to create a sense of global fatigue over its war in Ukraine, including by successfully pushing energy prices higher by restricting the flows of natural gas, Zelenskiy said.

EU Plans Emergency Intervention to Push Down Power Prices (2:55 p.m.)

The EU is planning urgent steps to force down soaring power prices, von der Leyen said. “The skyrocketing electricity prices are now exposing, for different reasons, the limitations of our current electricity market design,” she said at the Bled Strategic Summit in Slovenia.

The unprecedented spike in power prices, which have soared almost 10-fold in the past year, has fueled inflation and increased the economic burden on businesses and households recovering from the pandemic.

US Officials, Allies to Meet in Germany Sept. 8 (2:10 p.m.)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is scheduled to host an in-person Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Sept. 8, the US said in a statement. Austin has invited ministers of defense and senior military officials from around the world to discuss Russia’s attack on Ukraine and various security issues facing allies and partners.

New Training Mission Plan Aims to Bolster Ukraine’s Military (1:35 p.m.)

The EU could offer Ukraine’s armed forces sniper, de-mining and officer training as part of a new mission the bloc’s foreign policy chief plans to propose to member states this week. Josep Borrell is due to suggest an EU training mission for Ukraine, with the aim of clinching political backing from defense ministers when they gather in Prague starting Monday evening.

While Ukraine’s needs are evolving, Kyiv has identified some specific training needs, including for medical, de-mining and sniper missions, as well as various kinds of officer training, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg.

EU to Hold Emergency Talks on Sept. 9 as Prices Spike (1:25 p.m.)

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, called an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers to discuss a bloc-wide solution to the spike in power markets.

The meeting, which will take place in Brussels on Sept. 9, will debate concrete measures to tackle the energy crisis, according to Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela. Czech officials are proposing to cap prices of natural gas used for power generation, Sikela said.

Record Number of Refugees Return to Ukraine From Poland (1:15 p.m.)

More than 73,000 people left Poland for Ukraine on Aug. 27-28, a record for any weekend since Russia’s invasion in February, Polish border guards said on Twitter. The return of refugees intensified at the start of the new school year on Sept. 1. Most people who fled the war are women with children.

Poland has been a major destination for people fleeing the war. Since Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, 5.89 million people have entered Poland from Ukraine, while about 4 million crossed the border in the opposite direction.

European Gas Prices Slump (12:20 p.m.)

European natural gas prices plunged the most since March after Germany said its gas stores are filling up faster than planned and some traders took profits following the rally of recent weeks.

Zelenskiy Offers Spare Gas Capacity (12:10 p.m.)

The Ukrainian president offered excess capacity at the country’s gas-storage facilities for the EU to use to build supplies for the winter. Ukraine can also be a contributor to the energy transition, he said via a webcast at the ONS conference in Stavanger, Norway.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told the same conference Norway aims to spend 2 billion kroner ($205 million) this year to ensure that Ukrainians can buy gas for the winter. The support will be distributed through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Russia to Ensure IAEA Security on Territory It Controls (12:05 p.m.)

Russia will ensure the security of a mission from the IAEA to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on the territory it controls in Ukraine, while it will be up to Kyiv to handle it on the other side of the front, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“We’ve been waiting for this mission for a long time and consider it necessary,” he told a conference call. But he said there is “no discussion” of creating a de-militarized zone around the plant at the moment.

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