War in Ukraine: latest developments

By: AFP
Published: 11:23 PM, 19 Aug, 2022
War in Ukraine: latest developments
Caption: Burning building of a chemical factory destroyed following a missile strike in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, amid Russian's invasion of Ukraine.
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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Putin, Macron urge inspection of nuclear site -

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron call for independent inspections at the Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the Kremlin says.

During their first call in three months, the two leaders call for experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) watchdog to inspect the plant "as soon as possible" and "assess the real situation on the ground", the Kremlin says.

The plant, Europe's biggest, was seized by Russian troops in March and recent fighting around it has raised the spectre of a nuclear incident comparable to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Both Kyiv and Moscow have this week accused each other of preparing "provocations" at the facility.

Putin "stressed that the systematic shelling by the Ukrainian military of the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe that could lead to radiation contamination of vast territories", the Kremlin says.

The French presidency specifies that Putin has dropped his demand that the IAEA team travel to the site via Russia, saying it could arrive via Ukraine "in respect of Ukrainian sovereignty".

- UN chief urges Russia on electricity grid -

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asks that the Zaporizhzhia station not be cut off from Ukraine's electricity grid, following Ukrainian reports that Moscow is planning to do so.

"Obviously the electricity from Zaporizhzhia is Ukrainian electricity... This principle must be fully respected," he says during a visit to the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom has alleged that Russian troops are planning to "shut off the reactors" at Zaporizhzhia, which is capable of supplying four million homes.

- Putin decries obstacles to food, fetiliser exports -

During their call, Putin tells Macron that Russia is facing obstacles in the export of its food products and fertiliser.

"There are still obstacles to the mentioned Russian exports that does not contribute to the solution of problems related to ensuring global food security," the Kremlin says.

Last month in Istanbul, Russia and Ukraine signed landmark deals with Turkey and the United Nations that opened secure corridors for grain exports to leave Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

A similar agreement signed at the same time allowed Russia to export its agricultural products and fertiliser despite Western sanctions over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.

The French presidency denies any "obstacles" hindering Russian agriculture exports.

- 'Total lack of progress' for Russia: Pentagon -

Ukraine's forces have brought the Russian advance to a halt in recent weeks and the Russian military's positions on the ground have weakened, a senior US defence official says.

"You are seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield," the official says, speaking to reporters on grounds of anonymity.

Separately the US Defense Department announces a new $775 million package of defense equipment and ammunition for Ukraine, including Himars missiles, artillery, and mine-clearing systems.

- Russia pounds Donbas -

Russian forces continue to pound Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, with Kyiv reporting five people killed across the industrial province of Donetsk in the last 24 hours.

The Ukrainian head of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, says on social media that Russian strikes had killed five people and injured 10 more in three settlements.

Strikes early Friday in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, left one person dead and damaged a school and a private business, the head of the region says. Russian strikes around Kharkiv have killed more than a dozen people over the last two days.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.