March 1, 2024

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Fighting rages in southern Ukraine, Zelensky meets IAEA mission

Fighting rages in southern Ukraine, Zelensky meets IAEA mission

Mykolive | A counteroffensive by the Ukrainian military continued in southern Ukraine on Tuesday, where heavy fighting was reported, while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) mandate in Kyiv to “do everything possible” to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. Zaporizhia Power Station.

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The Ukrainian president said there were “powerful explosions” throughout Monday and overnight in the Kherson region, captured by the Russians at the start of the war, and “almost all” of its territory is in the grip of violent clashes. morning.

IAEA experts – led by its Director General Raffaele Grossi – and Mr. The latter aired a video of a meeting between Zelenskyi, for which the international community must obtain from Russia the “immediate demilitarization” of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant, which is massive. In Europe, it has occupied since early March.

The occasion, he added, meant the withdrawal of “all Russian soldiers with all their explosives, all their weapons” from these installations located in southern Ukraine.

“Powerful Artillery Barrages”

In Berezhnehuvet, 70 km north of Kherson, the AFP saw Ukrainian armor continue to pass by, while heavy artillery fire echoed in the surroundings.

Some soldiers were moving forward, like this small group, whose engine on their T74 tank had overheated and was waiting to be repaired. Others returned and rested.

“We pushed them well,” boasts Victor, an infantryman in his sixties, who did not want to say more. Its commander, Oleksandr, a Soviet veteran of the Afghan war, thinks recapturing Kherson will be “long and complicated.”

“Ukrainian armed forces have launched offensive operations in various directions,” the Ukrainian president’s office announced, saying they had destroyed “several ammunition depots” and “all major bridges” that allow vehicles to cross the Dnieper. Ukraine. This is to stop supplies from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

According to a British Ministry of Defense note, “most of the (Russian) divisions around Kherson were probably understrength and had to rely on fragile supplies by boat and pontoon bridges.”

Local officials said the Ukrainian counteroffensive was mainly aimed at retaking Kherson.

One of them, MP Serhiy Klahn, spoke on Ukrainian television about “powerful artillery strikes on enemy positions (…)”.

Moscow calls it a “failure” of Ukrainians

Russia, for its part, promised on Monday that it had repelled Ukrainian “attempts to attack” in the Kherson region and further west in the Mykolaiv region.

“Due to the failure of the Ukrainian offensive (…), the enemy suffered heavy losses”, namely 1,200 men “in one day”, as well as dozens of military vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The Russians fired 16 S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at Mykolaiv on Monday, causing “significant” damage and killing two civilians and injuring 24, according to the Ukrainian military’s “Southern” command.

This information has not been verified from independent sources.

Nor did the Russian bombardment stop along the front line stretching from north to south.

At least five people were killed in Russian strikes in the center of Kharkiv (northeast), Ukraine’s second-largest city, local officials said on Tuesday.

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In this context, the defense ministers of the member states of the European Union during an informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday agreed to start preparatory work for the program of training of Ukrainian soldiers by the European Union.

IAEA “This Week” in Zaporizhia

Zaporizhia regional governor Oleksandr Staroukh said early Tuesday that Russia launched a missile attack on the city of the same name.

However, there was no loss of life or significant damage, he said.

It is in this region that the IAEA team is expected to inspect the nuclear power plant where it is located “later this week”.

Russia, accused by Kyiv of deploying artillery pieces there, said on Tuesday it was “confident” the mission would take place.

Nevertheless, Ukrainian operator Energoatom said Russian soldiers “put pressure on the plant’s employees to prevent them from revealing evidence of the occupier’s crimes.”

Russian gas weapon

In addition, the Engie Group further cut supplies from giant Gazprom on Tuesday in a further step towards the drying up of Russian gas flows to France as autumn approaches.

For its part, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany is “well-positioned” to face the threat.

Meanwhile, the World Food Program (WFP) said a United Nations chartered ship arrived at the port of Djibouti carrying 23,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat for Ethiopia, where millions of people are suffering from starvation.