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Russia makes Europe sweat over gas as Ukraine’s nuclear facility loses power

by Babu Patil
Russia makes Europe sweat over gas as Ukraine's nuclear facility loses power

The Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest, had its last main external power line cut off. The IAEA said a reserve line continued supplying electricity to the grid. Russian troops seized the plant shortly after their Feb. 24 invasion. There are fears of a radiation disaster that the International Red Cross has said would cause a humanitarian crisis. Gazprom says it will not allow a restart of gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

The U.N. inspectors reported Saturday that a nuclear power plant on the front line of the Ukraine war lost external power again, raising disaster threats as Moscow blocked its main gas pipeline to Germany to harm Kyiv’s Western allies. The IAEA reported the Zaporizhzhia plant’s last main external power line was turned off, but a reserve line continued to send electricity to the grid.

The agency stated that only one of the station’s six reactors remained functional. Russian troops seized the factory quickly after their Feb. 24 invasion, and each side blamed the other for the bombardment. Moscow promised to keep its main gas pipeline to Germany closed last week while the G7 announced a price restriction on Russian oil exports.

The energy conflict is a spillover from President Putin’s six-month assault on Ukraine, highlighting the vast divide between Moscow and Western nations as Europe braces for winter. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, “Russia is getting ready for a decisive energy attack on the Europeans this winter.”

Zelenskiy blames Russian shelling for the Aug. 25 shutdown, which narrowly avoided a radioactive release. This shutdown caused power outages in Ukraine, but emergency generators helped with cooling.

Moscow blames Western sanctions and technical concerns for energy interruptions, but Europe accuses Russia of weaponizing supplies as part of its invasion.

Nuclear concerns

Kyiv and Moscow have accused one another of attacking the Ukrainian-run Zaporizhzhia plant.
An IAEA mission toured the plant on Thursday, and some experts are still there awaiting a report.
The IAEA said that one reactor was still making energy “for cooling and other important safety tasks at the facility and families, businesses, and others through the grid.”

The fifth reactor was shut down because “Russian occupation forces kept shelling it” and “the last reserve line didn’t have enough power.”

Worsening conditions have sparked fears of a radioactive disaster, which the Red Cross says would cause a humanitarian crisis.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of hoarding heavy weapons to deter Ukraine from attacking. Russia denies having such weapons there and has rejected international attempts to demilitarise the area.

Russia’s defense ministry accuses Ukrainian forces of a botched plant grab. Reuters couldn’t confirm it.

On Saturday, Turkey offered help.

Gazprom (GAZP.MM), a state-controlled energy company, blamed a technical issue for its decision not to begin gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) was ready to help fix broken equipment, but there was no space. Siemens says it’s available to do pipeline maintenance but hasn’t been hired.

The indefinite delay in starting up Nord Stream 1 makes it harder for Europe to get enough fuel for the winter, especially since energy prices are increasing living costs.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven affluent democracies—Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S.—said the cap on Russian oil sought to reduce “Russia’s capacity to pay for its war of aggression while reducing the impact on global energy costs.”

The Kremlin claimed it would halt exports of oil to cap-implementing countries.

Russia called its invasion a “military operation.” Kyiv and the West call it an unjustified attack on a former Soviet republic.

The US and other countries gave Kyiv more military help to stop an attack that killed thousands and forced millions to leave their homes.

Ukraine began a counteroffensive last week targeting the south, especially Kherson....

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