Tue, 06 Jun 2023

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi arrived for a visit to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine late on Wednesday morning. He described the situation there as "very dangerous" on Tuesday, a day after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Zaporizhzhia region. Follow our live blog for the latest updates on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

11:55am: Russia's war against hostile states will last 'a long time', Kremlin says

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia's confrontation with hostile states and what it called a "hybrid war" being waged against it by the West would last a long time.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the prediction when asked how long what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine would last.

"If you are referring to a war in a broader context, a confrontation with hostile states, a hybrid war against our country, then it is going to last for a long time," Peskov told reporters.

"And here we need to be resolute and self-confident and to consolidate around the president," he said.

11:49am: IAEA chief Rafael Grossi arrives at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The UN nuclear watchdog's chief arrived late Wednesday morning at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in a rare visit to Europe's largest nuclear facility, which is currently held by Moscow's forces, Kyiv said.

"Rafael Grossi arrived at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. This is the second visit of the Head of the IAEA to the largest nuclear plant in Ukraine and Europe, since it was occupied by the Russians," the Ukrainian nuclear power operator Energoatom announced on social media.

10:47am: Sweden says will summon Russian envoy over NATO warning

Sweden said Wednesday it was summoning the Russian ambassador to Stockholm, after he said the Nordic country and neighbouring Finland would become "legitimate targets" of "retaliatory measures", including "military ones", after joining NATO.

"The ministry for foreign affairs will summon the Russian ambassador to make a clear statement against this blatant attempt at influence," Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said, and added that "Sweden's security policy is determined by Sweden - no one else".

10:15am: Moscow is committed to preventing nuclear war, Russian security official says

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday that Moscow is committed to preventing nuclear war and military confrontation between nuclear-armed states, the TASS news agency reported.

6:47am: Zelensky invites China's Xi to visit Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has extended an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

"We are ready to see him here," Zelensky told the news agency in an interview.

Xi has not talked to Zelensky since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year. However, China published a 12-point plan for "a political resolution of the Ukraine crisis" last month.

Xi discussed the conflict with his "dear friend", Russian President Vladimir Putin, while on a state visit to Moscow last week, although the talks did not show progress on how to end the war.

China's proposal includes a call for a de-escalation and eventual ceasefire in Ukraine.

6:27am: Ukrainian forces shell Russian-occupied Melitopol, Russian media reports

Ukrainian forces have shelled the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol, south of the Zaporizhzhia region, and Russian media reported on Wednesday that as a result, the city's power supply had been cut.

Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March last year, said on the Telegram messaging app that several explosions had gone off in the city.

Russia's state TASS news agency, citing Moscow-installed officials in the area, said Ukrainian shelling had damaged the city's power supply system and knocked out electricity in the city and some nearby villages.

TASS also reported that a locomotive depot was destroyed but according to initial information, there were no casualties.

4:19am: IAEA chief Rafael Grossi due to visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected on Wednesday at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which is currently occupied by Russian forces. Grossi described the situation at the plant as "very dangerous" on Tuesday, a day after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Grossi has been pushing for a proposal that would introduce measures aimed at ensuring the plant's safety. One such measure would be to ensure that no one is allowed to fire at or from the plant and that heavy weapons are removed from the site.

Following six power outages at the plant, which have forced emergency diesel generators to kick in to cool its reactors, Grossi has said that the water level in a nearby reservoir controlled by Russian forces is another potential danger. If it dips below a certain level, then it can no longer be used to cool the reactors, he said.

Grossi and his delegation are due to arrive at the site later this morning and leave in the afternoon, according to the TASS agency, citing an official from the Russian operator Rosenergoatom. This is Grossi's second visit to Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

3:06am: Kyiv urges Russians not to adopt Ukraine's 'stolen' children

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged Russians on Tuesday not to adopt children who she said were "stolen" in Ukraine during the war and deported to Russia.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant earlier in March against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's commissioner for children's rights, accusing them of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

The war that Russia has been waging on its neighbour for 13 months has seen millions of people displaced, including families and children. The number of children who have been forcefully deported to Russia is impossible to establish.

2:02am: Russian embassy says US wants to play down involvement in Nord Stream blasts

The Russian embassy in the US said Wednesday that Washington is seeking to play down damaging information about the alleged involvement of its intelligence services in last year's blasts that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

Moscow failed on Monday to get the UN Security Council to ask for an independent inquiry into explosions in September that ruptured the pipelines connecting Russia and Germany and spewed gas into the Baltic Sea.

Russian officials reacted angrily and the Kremlin said on Tuesday it would keep demanding an international investigation.

12:53am: Biden calls Putin's nuclear deployment talk 'dangerous'

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin's stated plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, branding it "dangerous" talk.

"This is dangerous kind of talk and it's worrisome," Biden told reporters at the White House.

The Kremlin leader announced on Saturday that he was ordering the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which is run by fellow authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, one of Moscow's closest allies.

Key Developments from March 28

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach announced yesterday that a decision on whether athletes competing for Russia and Belarus will be able to participate in the Paris 2024 Games would be taken "at the appropriate time".

Bach also defended a recommendation that nationals of the two countries be able to join other international sports competitions as "Individual Neutral Athletes".

Ukraine welcomed the move to delay the decision on the Games. The head of Russia's Olympic Committee denounced the recommendation for international competitions, calling the criteria, which include that athletes have no links to Russia's military, "unacceptable".

Also of note, Amnesty International released its annual report yesterday, in which it said that outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exposed the West's "double standards" towards human rights abuses throughout the world.

Read FRANCE 24's liveblog for all the developments from Tuesday, March 28.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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