Ukraine said its Zaporizhzhia nuclear-power plant has been disconnected from the power grid after Russian shelling damaged transmission lines and left the facility reliant on diesel generators.
Two remaining high-voltage transmission lines linking the plant to the Ukrainian power system were damaged following fresh Russian attacks, state nuclear-energy company Energoatom said on Thursday.
The facility had 15 days’ worth of fuel to run the 20 diesel generators that had been activated, it said, and two of its units were being switched to a cold shutdown mode.
“The countdown has begun,” the state-run company said, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the nearby city of Enerhodar and the plant’s return to Ukrainian control “for the sake of the safety of the whole world!”
This isn’t the first time the plant has been disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid. On Oct. 17, fighting near a substation knocked out the final functioning power line, Energoatom said at the time, and on Sept. 5 a fire caused by shelling again severed a transmission line.
The plant was forced to use its backup generators to cool spent fuel and power ventilation fans, something the International Atomic Energy Agency has warned is dangerous and unsustainable. But repair workers have previously managed to restore power.
Energoatom accused Russia on Thursday of attempts to sever the plant’s links to Ukraine and reconnect it to the Russian energy system. It said Russia is trying to repair the damaged transmission lines and connect them in the direction of Russian-held Crimea and Donbas.
There are concerns over the safety of the plant as fierce fighting in Ukraine’s east and south continues to deplete the weapons stocks of both sides. The U.K.’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that in mid-October, Russia was losing armored vehicles at the rate of more than 40 a day, roughly equivalent to a battalion’s worth of equipment.
It said Moscow was likely resorting to replenishing its weapons stocks in Ukraine by taking tanks and infantry fighting vehicles from depots in Belarus, a close Russian ally that has supported Moscow throughout the war.
Russia resumed attacks on infrastructure across Ukraine on Thursday with overnight drone attacks on energy infrastructure in Krivyi Rih and Zaporizhzhia, local authorities there said. Damage to substations has already led to blackouts in parts of major Ukrainian cities.
In the southern Kherson region, Russian occupation authorities closed civilian traffic to the western bank of the Dnipro River after announcing that an evacuation of residents launched several weeks ago as a result of heavy fighting was nearing completion.
On Wednesday, they began mandatory transfers of tens of thousands of residents from parts of the region as Ukraine stepped up its offensive to recapture the south and Russian forces dug in as they sought to defend Kherson, the only regional capital they have captured since the invasion launched in February.
Meanwhile, Kyiv praised the role played by Western leaders in negotiating the resumption of grain exports from its ports. Russia on Wednesday said it would rejoin a deal allowing for the safe passage of Ukrainian grain, ending days of uncertainty over shipments and feeding some criticism by Russian nationalists that Moscow had capitulated in the standoff.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday it had received written guarantees from Kyiv that Ukraine wouldn’t use the corridor to attack Russian forces and that those were sufficient to rejoin the agreement.
hailed the role played by the United Nations and Turkish President Recep
among others, in his evening address on Wednesday, saying, “Russia’s blackmail had gone nowhere.”
Write to Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected]
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