Ukraine Latest: Atomic Plant Woes; Bracing for Energy Rationing
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine went offline again late Saturday, two days after a delegation from the UN’s nuclear agency visited. It continues to supply electricity to the grid via a reserve line, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
Europe is bracing for another spike in energy costs and potential rationing after Russia’s Gazprom PJSC didn’t reopen the key Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline as planned on Saturday, citing a newly discovered fault. The EU said Gazprom was acting on “fallacious pretenses.” Goldman Sachs analysts said gas prices could retest August highs, but that demand destruction is under way.
Tens of thousands of Czechs protested in Prague on Saturday, demanding government help with rising energy bills as the knock-on effects of Russia’s invasion are felt across the continent. Petitions circulated calling for a direct contract with Russia for gas supplies.
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On the Ground
Ukraine’s front line remained largely static overnight, with Russian forces shelling positions along the line of contact, the Ukrainian army’s General Staff said on Facebook. Russia continues to focus on establishing control over the territory of the Donetsk region, holding the captured areas of the Kherson, Kharkov, Zaporozhye and Nikolaev regions, Ukraine’s defense ministry said. It said Russian troops launched more than 10 missiles and more than 24 air strikes on military and civilian targets in Ukraine in the past day. Due to the lack of high-precision weapons, Moscow’s forces are using outdated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles more often, Ukraine said.
(All times CET)
Energy Rationing Looking All But Inevitable in Europe (8:56 a.m.)
Energy rationing in Europe this winter is looking all but inevitable after Russia’s Gazprom made a last-minute decision not to turn the crucial Nord Stream pipeline back on after maintenance.
The European Union has already created a voluntary 15% demand reduction target for gas, with the option of making it obligatory if needed. The bloc’s energy ministers plan an emergency meeting on Friday to decide on next steps.
Europe Looks Set for Energy Rationing After Russian Gas Cut
Russia Looks to Sow ‘Political Chaos’ Across Europe, Zelenskiy Says (8:30 a.m.)
The eleventh-hour move by Russia’s Gazprom to keep the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline closed is part of “a decisive energy attack on all European,” Ukraine’s president said.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia “wants to weaken and intimidate the entire Europe, every state.” President Vladimir Putin’s government “is trying to attack with poverty and political chaos where it cannot yet attack with missiles,” Zelenskiy said.
His comments came hours after tens of thousands of Czechs took to the streets in protests tied to high energy costs and a cost of living squeeze.
IAEA’s Grossi Plans Report on Ukraine Nuclear Situation (8 a.m.)
The head of the UN’s atomic agency said he plans to publish a report within days on “the situation with physical, nuclear security and guarantees” across Ukraine.
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency led by director general Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the Zaporizhizhia plant on Thursday. Grossi called the ability to establish a permanent presence of IAEA monitors at the plant “a game changer.”
“The difference between having the IAEA at the site and not having us there is like day and night,” he said in a statement Saturday.
Russia Failing to Properly Equip, Pay Its Troops, UK Says (7:30 a.m.)
Russian forces in Ukraine are likely to be suffering from morale and discipline issues as the invasion grinds toward its seven-month mark, the UK defense ministry said.
“One of the main grievances from deployed Russian soldiers probably continues to be problems with their pay,” the UK said, offering no direct evidence for a claim that “sizable combat bonuses” aren’t being paid.
UK Likely to Join EU Security Meeting, FT Says (7:51 p.m.)
The EU is planning to invite the UK’s next prime minister to a summit of an expanded group of European countries that’s meant to strengthen cooperation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.
While invitations to the meeting on Oct. 6 in Prague are pending, the UK is likely to be on the list, the FT said. The grouping, which includes EU neighbors such as Ukraine, Moldova and Balkan countries, was floated by French President Emmanuel Macron in May.
Zaporizhzhia Goes Off-line Again, IAEA Says (6:54 p.m.)
The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine again lost connection to its last external power line, although a reserve line continued to supply electricity, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
Fighting continues in the area of Europe’s largest atomic power plant, the UN agency said in a lengthy statement.
IAEA experts at the site were informed less than two days, after they arrived at the plant with the agency’s head, Rafael Mariano Grossi, that the plant’s fourth and last operational power line was down.
Russians Bid Farewell to Gorbachev, Last Soviet Leader (2:11 p.m.)
A farewell ceremony for Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, concluded in Moscow with crowds chanting “thank you” as his hearse pulled away, Interfax reported.
President Vladimir Putin pointedly did not attend the ceremony, which didn’t not bear the pomp of past state funerals of Russian leaders, including Boris Yeltsin. Among the dignitaries to attend were Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and journalist Dmitry Muratov and the former leader of the liberal Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky.
Gorbachev, whose policies of openness and reform helped end the Cold War and unraveled the Soviet Union, died Tuesday at 91.
Read more: Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet Leader Who Ended Cold War, Dies at 91
Medvedev Warns Against Seeking Russia’s Collapse, Brandishes Nukes (1:04 p.m.)
A top Russian official accused the US and its allies of attempting to seek the disintegration of his country and warned it could lead to doomsday.
Dmitry Medvedev, former president and the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in a post on Telegram that such attempts could lead to “chess game with Death” given Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal.
Medvedev, who’s taken on a bellicose posture on social media since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, made the post after attending a Saturday farewell ceremony for Mikhail Gorbachev.