Zelensky criticises Russia’s handling of IAEA mission

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday criticised what he said was the obstruction of independent media covering the UN visit to the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

7:06am: Heavy fighting in southern Ukraine: UK

Heavy fighting persists in the southern part of Ukraine including shellings in the Enerhodar district, near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Britain’s defence ministry. 

On Thursday, September 1, Russia began its strategic military exercises in the east of the country, called the “Vostok 2022” (East) exercises that will end on September 5.

“Russia’s military performance in Ukraine has highlighted that Russia’s military strategic exercises, such as Vostok, have failed to sustain the military’s ability to conduct large scale, complex operations,” said the defence ministry in its daily update.

“Russia publicly claimed that 50,000 troops will take part, however, it’s unlikely that more than 15,000 personnel will be actively involved this year. This is around 20% of the forces which participated in the last Vostok exercise in 2018,” said the daily briefing. “Such events are heavily scripted, do not encourage initiative, and primarily aim to impress Russian leaders and international audiences,” it added.

6:00am: Zelensky accuses Russia of blocking journalists’ access to power plant

Speaking in his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission that members of the independent media “would accompany the mission for the world to see the truth and what is really happening”.

However, he said, Russia instead blocked access to journalists and “organised a crowd of their propagandists”.

10:30pm: UN inspectors at nuclear plant ‘not going anywhere’

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi has spoken to reporters upon crossing back into Ukrainian-held territory after leading a team of nuclear inspectors to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Grossi said he had been able to tour the entire site, seeing key areas such as the emergency systems and control rooms. His team would now need to do a lot of work to finish its analysis of worrisome technical aspects.

“We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there, it is at the plant and it is not moving – it’s going to stay there,” a tired-looking Grossi said after what he called a long day.


The IAEA chief said members of his team would stay at the plant to provide an impartial, technical assessment of what is happening on the ground. They would dig deeper into conditions and deliver a report.

“It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant have been violated, several times … This is something that cannot continue to happen,” he said.

10:15pm: Grain ship from Ukraine grounded in Istanbul, halting traffic

A cargo ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine under a UN-brokered export deal has drifted aground in Turkey’s Bosphorus strait, halting shipping through Istanbul, according to the governor’s office and a shipping firm.

The Istanbul governor’s office said the 173-metre “Lady Zehma” was safely grounded and anchored after a rudder failure around 1800 GMT. No one was hurt and Coast Guards were attending, it said.

Earlier this week the Joint Coordination Centre – run by the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey after a grains-export deal was reached – said the Lady Zehma was cleared to depart Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port for Ravenna, Italy, with 3,000 tonnes of corn.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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