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Ukraine news – live: Nuclear power ‘must not be instrument of war’, Macron warns

‘Radiation disaster’ narrowly avoided, says Zelensky, as one of six reactors ‘reconnected to grid’

Boris Johnson celebrates Ukraine's Independence Day

Nuclear power must not be used “as an instrument of war”, French president Emmanuel Macron has warned, after the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – was disconnected from the Ukrainian grid due to shelling nearby.

The United States accused Moscow of turning the plant into an “active war zone” as part of “its strategy to create an energy crisis in Europe”, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky warning that the world narrowly avoided a “radiation disaster” after electricity to the plant was cut.

Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom said one of the plant’s six reactors had been reconnected to the grid on Friday afternoon, as hopes were raised for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to be permitted to visit the plant, which was captured by Russia in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s war.

In a sign that he expects the war to grind on for months to come, Mr Putin this week signed a decree to expand the Russian army by 137,000 troops, following widespread claims that the Kremlin’s forces have suffered severe casualties over the past six months.


Political support for Ukraine at ‘risk’ of waning in Europe as energy crisis bites, top diplomat says

“There is a risk” that political support for Ukraine in Europe could decline as a result of the energy crisis, Germany’s ambassador to the UK has said.

“I think this is the same challenge here in the UK, for France, for all of Europe. The way Putin is using gas as a weapon and putting pressure on our societies – he wants to test our resolve. Obviously it will depend a lot on the relief packages of our governments,” Miguel Berger, who appeared on the BBC this morning, was reported as saying by The Guardian.

While the German government has already begun rolling out support for households and firms, Mr Berger reportedly acknowledged that “there is a risk” that support would wane.

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 12:02

Macron responds to Truss ‘jury’s out’ claim as Tory frontrunner risks angering Nato partner

Despite France being a vital Nato ally of the UK in the face of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister last night claimed the “jury’s out” on whether Emmanuel Macron is a “friend or foe”.

Responding to foreign secretary Liz Truss’s remarks today, the French president described Britain as an ally and said its people would always be friends of France, despite the occasional error made by its leaders.

But he added: “If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies ... then we are headed for serious problems.”

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more details here:

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 12:19

Putin’s ‘ability to exercise leverage’ on energy will diminish, Boris Johnson says

Vladimir Putin’s ability to “exercise leverage over us and the rest of the world will diminish” and energy bills will eventually fall, Boris Johnson has said, as he blamed the Russian president for driving the spike in costs.

The prime minister told broadcasters: “We want to make sure that we get people through the next few months, and we can, and we will because we took the right steps. We have a big, big package of help and support.

“But the message I want to get over to people is that I’m afraid that there’s a global spike in energy costs driven by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

“Putin’s position, Putin’s ability to blackmail, to exercise leverage over us and over the rest of the world will diminish week by week, month by month, and we will get through this and in the end, we will be in a much better position. The other side will have more of our own UK energy to rely on, and the bills will eventually come down.”

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 12:38

One reactor at Zaporizhzhia reconnected to Ukrainian grid, Energoatom says

Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatm has said that one reactor at its Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been reconnected to the Ukrainian grid and that it was building up capacity.

The Ukrainian regional governor said earlier on Friday morning that efforts were underway to resume operations at two of the six reactors at the plant.

The plant’s sixth reactor was working at 10 per cent capacity, while the fifth reactor was in the process of resuming operations, governor Oleksandr Starukh had said in televised comments reported by Reuters.

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 12:57

Proportion of Ukrainians in UK employment rises by 42%

Our senior news correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

The proportion of Ukrainians nationals employed in the UK has increased significantly since the government launched its resettlement scheme for refugees of the war against Russia, official figures show.

Some 42 per cent of Ukrainians living in Britain had secured work as of 4 August, up from 9 per cent in April, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The majority of those employed (63 per cent) said they had a permanent job, with one-quarter having a temporary job. The most common sectors of work were accommodation or food service (29 per cent), manufacturing (8 per cent), and wholesale and retail trade (8 per cent), with 28 per cent reporting “other”.

Some 37 per cent of respondents said they had enough money to support themselves for the next three months – up from 26 per cent in April.

Proportion of Ukrainians in UK employment rises by 42%

100,000 people from Ukraine have moved to the UK since the beginning of the war

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 13:16

US concerned diminished access to Russian oil will drive up prices, official says

The United States is concerned that diminishing access to Russian oil from 5 December will lead to higher prices, a US Treasury official has said.

That is the date that a sanctions waiver exempting third-party purchases of Russian energy is set to expire.

Deputy Treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters in New Delhi that he had a very constructive conversation with Indian officials and private sector participants about the idea of a price cap on Russian crude.

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 13:38

Russia burns off ‘$10m of gas a day meant for Europe’ after huge flame seen near Nord Stream pipeline

Russia is burning off vast amounts of natural gas which experts believe would once have been destined for Germany, as Europe struggles with rocketing energy costs exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The flare at the Portovaya plant – which is located close to a compressor station at the start of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – was first noticed months ago by residents across the border in Finland and in satellite images, with an estimated 4.34 million cubic metres of gas being burned every day

“I’ve never seen an LNG plant flare so much,” Dr Jessica McCarty, an expert on satellite data from Miami University in Ohio, told the BBC. “Starting around June, we saw this huge peak, and it just didn’t go away. It’s stayed very anomalously high.”

Russia burning off ‘$10m of gas a day meant for Europe’ as millions face rising bills

Blaze at Portovaya plant visible from neighbouring Finland amid fears for climate impact

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 14:01

Nuclear power ‘must not be instrument of war’, Macron says

French president Emmanuel Macron has warned that “civilian nuclear power must not be an instrument of war” after the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – was disconnected from the grid due to shelling.

“There is a worry and a big concern about nuclear safety. And that is why, since last March, I have been deeply engaged with the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency to do everything to protect initially Chernobyl and now Zaporizhzhia,” said Mr Macron.

He insisted that the “war shouldn’t, under any circumstances, undermine the nuclear safety of the country, the region and the rest of us”, adding that both Ukraine and the Russians have pledged security guarantees for the IAEA mission, which he said should take place “very quickly.”

“Therefore, civilian nuclear power must be fully protected,” Mr Macron said. “Civilian nuclear power must not be an instrument of war and therefore the sovereignty of states must be respected in regard of nuclear installations.”

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 14:21

Zaporizhzhia again supplying power to Ukraine, Energoatom says

The Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is again supplying Ukraine with energy after one of its six reactors was reconnected to the grid, Energoatom has said.

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is connected to the grid and is producing electricity for the needs of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s state nuclear company said in a statement.

“Today ... at 14:04 [local time], one of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s power units that shut down yesterday was connected to the power grid,” it added.

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 14:35

Finland, Sweden and Turkey to meet through autumn to discuss Nato bids

Officials from Finland and Sweden have agreed to continue meeting with counterparts from Turkey over the coming months to discuss security concerns raised by Ankara as a precondition for allowing the two Nordic countries to join Nato.

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said the first such meeting today aimed to establish contacts and set goals for cooperation that the countries agreed to by signing a memorandum of understanding in Madrid two months ago.

“The participants discussed the concrete steps to implement the Trilateral Memorandum and agreed that the mechanism will continue to meet at the expert level during the autumn,” the Finnish foreign ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Finland’s foreign ministry had been tight-lipped about Friday’s meeting, refusing to give its location or timing, but later said it had taken place in the city of Vantaa near the capital Helsinki.

Ankara had threatened to veto the two historic Nato bids, launched in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, expressing anger towards the Nordic nations over arms embargoes and their support for Kurdish groups deemed terrorists by Turkey.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has since demanded Sweden and Finland extradite suspects Turkey seeks over terrorism-related charges, while the Nordic countries argue they did not agree to any specific extraditions by signing the memorandum.

Andy Gregory26 August 2022 15:00

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