Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Leaders of Ukraine, UN seek to secure Russian-held nuclear plant

Leaders of Ukraine, UN seek to secure Russian-held nuclear plant

KYIV (Reuters) - The UN chief and the presidents of Turkey and Ukraine have discussed ways to end the war started by Russia and secure Europe's largest nuclear power station, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of new shelling near the plant.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after talks in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday he was gravely concerned about circumstances at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he, Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed building on a recent positive atmosphere to revive peace negotiations with Russia that took place in Istanbul in March.

In a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in July for Russia to lift a blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments, and exports resumed at the beginning of August.

NATO member Turkey has maintained good relations with Russia, an important trade partner, and sought to mediate in the conflict, which began six months ago when Russian forces invaded neighbouring Ukraine.

"Personally, I maintain my belief that the war will ultimately end at the negotiating table. Mr Zelenskiy and Mr Guterres have the same opinion in this regard," Erdogan said.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden's administration is readying about $800 million of additional military aid to Ukraine and could announce it as soon as Friday, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Meanwhile, 17 people were killed and 42 wounded in two separate Russian attacks on the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the regional governor said on Thursday.

Five rockets hit the city early on Friday killing at least one person, he said.

At least four explosions hit near a major Russian military airport on the Moscow-controlled Crimean peninsula on Thursday, three sources said. The sources said the explosions were near Russia's Belbek military airport, north of the Black Sea fleet's headquarters in Sevastopol.

Ukraine has hinted it orchestrated other blasts over the last 10 days at other Russian installations in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev, writing on Telegram, said Russian anti-aircraft forces downed a Ukrainian drone and no damage occurred.

The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Friday that Russian forces had launched attacks and tried to make advances on three or more fronts and Ukrainian forces had repelled them.