Turkey can mediate Russia-Ukraine nuclear plant standoff, Erdogan says

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to mediate the standoff between Kyiv and Moscow over Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which has been occupied by Russian troops since early in the invasion. Follow the day’s events on our liveblog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

1:21pm: Russia says it foiled Ukrainian attempt to seize Zaporizhzhia plant on Friday

Ukrainian forces attempted to capture the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in an attack on the facility on Friday night, Russia’s defence ministry said in its daily briefing on Saturday.

The ministry said a Ukrainian naval force of more than 250 troops attempted to land on the coast of a lake near the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine at around 11pm local time (2000 GMT) on Friday.

“Despite the presence of representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Kyiv regime once again attempted to seize the plant,” the defence ministry said.

Russia said its forces foiled the attack with strikes from military helicopters and fighter jets, destroying 20 Ukrainian vessels and causing others to scatter and call off the attack.

Reuters was unable to verify the report.

12:45pm: Erdogan tells Putin that Turkey can mediate over Zaporizhzhia plant standoff

Turkey can mediate in a standoff over Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Moscow’s troops, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

“President Erdogan stated that Turkey can play a facilitator role in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as they did in the grain deal,” the Turkish presidency said, referring to a grain export agreement signed in July by Kyiv and Moscow with the United Nations and Turkey as guarantors. 

Erdogan last month warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster when he visited Lviv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “We are worried. We do not want another Chernobyl,” the Turkish leader had said.

12:06pm: EU expects Russia to respect energy contracts

The European Union expects Russia to respect existing energy contracts but is prepared to meet the challenge if it fails to do so, Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Saturday. Asked about the halt to the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, Gentiloni told reporters: “We are not afraid of (President Vladimir) Putin’s decisions. We ask them to respect their contracts but if they don’t we are ready to react.”

Gentiloni was speaking after Russia scrapped a Saturday deadline to resume flows via a major gas supply route to Germany, deepening Europe’s difficulties in securing winter fuel.

Gentiloni pointed to high gas storage levels across the EU and plans to cut energy consumption as a sign that the continent was preparing for what will be a tough winter.

6:40am: Russia ‘alarmed’ US has yet to issue visas for UN summit

Russia has expressed “alarm” to the UN’s secretary-general that the US has yet to issue visas for its delegation to attend a General Assembly session later this month, according to a letter seen Friday by AFP.

“None of the 56 Russian representatives from the main team and advance group have received entry visas to the United States” as of Thursday, wrote Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Nebenzia added that a “similar situation exists with the accompanying journalists and crew members” on the flight of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov is set to lead Russia’s delegation to the General Assembly from September 20 to 26.

“This is even more alarming since for the last several months the authorities of the United States have been constantly refusing to grant entry visas to a number of Russian delegates assigned to take part in the official United Nations events,” added Nebenzia. “Visa issuance is the legal duty of the host country, not a right or a privilege.”

According to a 1947 agreement, the United States is not allowed to prevent representatives of member states from travelling to UN headquarters in New York.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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