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Ukraine-Russia news – live: Putin warns anyone attacking Moscow will be ‘wiped out’

Kremlin’s move violates conditions for nuclear safety, nuclear operator warns

Arpan Rai,Jane Dalton
Friday 09 December 2022 18:57 GMT
Threat of nuclear war is rising but Russia has not 'gone mad', claims Vladimir Putin

Russian forces have placed Grad multiple-launch-rocket systems on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s territory, according to Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator.

The rocket launchers are next to spent nuclear fuel storage units near the plant’s sixth reactor, it said, and are likely to be used to strike cities on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, using the reactor and fuel storage as a “shelter” from return fire, according to Energoatom.

Russia’s move violated conditions for nuclear and radiation safety, the company said in its statement, which was backed by several Ukrainian ministers.

The risk of a nuclear meltdown is greatly reduced as none of the reactors is operating, but experts say a release of radiation is still possible at the Russian-occupied site, it’s been reported.

Ukraine’s atomic power agency has accused Russian forces of abducting two senior staff at the plant and detaining a third.

Meanwhile, Russian forces stepped up their military offensive in Ukraine’s east and shelled the entire frontier with the relentless attacks continuing for most of the week.

The fiercest fighting has raged near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the region’s governor Pavlo Kyurylenko said.


Putin says West’s desire for global dominance is ‘increasing risk of conflict’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that the West’s desire to maintain its dominance on the world stage was increasing the risks of conflict.

“The potential for conflict in the world is growing and this is a direct consequence of the attempts by Western elites to preserve their political, financial, military and ideological dominance by any means,” Putin said.

The Russian leader was speaking in a video message to a summit of defence ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and a group of ex-Soviet countries that was published by the Kremlin.

“They deliberately multiply chaos and aggravate the international situation,” Putin said.

He also accused the West of “exploiting” Ukraine and using its people as “cannon fodder” in a conflict against Russia.

Putin has repeatedly cast the war in Ukraine - which Moscow calls a “special military operation” - as a conflict between Russia and the West, criticising those who have provided military and financial backing to Ukraine.

Kyiv, European countries and Washington say Moscow used the pretext of security concerns to launch a cynical war of aggression against its pro-European neighbour in an attempt to seize swathes of territory and topple President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Reporting by Reuters.

Lucy Skoulding9 December 2022 08:33

Zelenksy pays tribute to policemen killed by landmines

Speaking late on Thursday night in a video address, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenksy has paid tribute to policemen who were killed by landmines in Kherson.

Four policemen lost their lives.

Zelenksy said: “This is perhaps even fiercer and more devious than missile terror. “For there is no system against mines that could destroy at least part of the threat as our anti-aircraft systems do.”

The Ukrainian president accused Russian forces of leaving explosives including tripwire mines, mined buildings and cars and landmines in places they then abandoned due to pressure from Ukrainian forces.

A soldier patrols at the Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson
A soldier patrols at the Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Lucy Skoulding9 December 2022 09:33

Ukraine’s finance minister says financial aid is ‘not charity’ but ‘self preservation'

Ukraine‘s finance minister says crucial Western financial support is “not charity” but “self-preservation” in the fight to defend democracy as his country deals with growing costs to repair electrical and heating infrastructure wrecked by Russian attacks.

Serhiy Marchenko also told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday from Kyiv that he believes European Union officials will sort out a dispute with Hungary that has blocked a key 18 billion-euro ($18.97 billion) aid package and would cover much of Ukraine’s looming budget gap.

Marchenko said financial support for Ukraine is tiny compared to what developed countries spent to combat emergencies like the global financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

And that the money bolsters freedom and security far beyond his country’s struggle, he added.

“It’s not charity to support Ukraine,” Marchenko said. “We are trying to protect freedom and democracy of all (the) civilized world.”

Read the full story here.

Lucy Skoulding9 December 2022 10:15

MOD shares reports of attacks from Russia using Iranian-made drones

Russia appears to have launched new strikes using Iranian-made drones after supplies were likely restocked, UK intelligence has said.

In an update on Friday morning, the Ministry of Defence said there had been reports of attacks by Iranian-made drones for the first time in three weeks.

Damage in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine
Damage in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine (Zaporizhzhia region military administration)

It said: “These events remain to be verified, but it is likely that Russia exhausted its previous stock of several hundred Shahed-131s and 136s and has now received a resupply.”

On Tuesday, Ukrainian general staff reported shooting down 17 uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), 14 of which were Shahed-136s. The next day, Kyiv officials said Iranian-made OWA UAVs targeted the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts.

Read the full story here.

Lucy Skoulding9 December 2022 10:45

Russia puts multiple-launch-rocket systems at nuclear power plant

Ukrainian officials say Russia has installed “Grad” multiple-launch-rocket systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is Europe’s largest.

The statement raises fears that the plant could be used to further attack Ukrainian territory, and it also heightens radiation dangers.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear energy company, said several of the war machines had been positioned near one of the power plant’s six nuclear reactors, in a move it said violated “all conditions for nuclear and radiation safety”.

It said the systems are at new “protective structures” the Russians secretly built.

Although the risk of a nuclear meltdown is greatly reduced because all six reactors have been shut down, experts have said a dangerous release of radiation is still possible, the Associated Press reports.

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 12:23

Russian opposition politician jailed for eight years

A Russian opposition politician has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison on charges of spreading “fake information” about the army.

Ilya Yashin was tried and found guilty over a YouTube video in April in which he discussed evidence uncovered by Western journalists of Russian atrocities in Bucha, near Kyiv, and cast doubt on the official Moscow version that such reports had been fabricated as a “provocation” against Russia.

In a statement to the court, Mr Yashin appealed directly to Vladimir Putin, describing him as “the person responsible for this slaughter” and asking him to “stop this madness”.

“Looking at the consequences of this monstrous war, you yourself probably realise what a grave error you committed on February 24. Our army isn’t being greeted with flowers. They call us punishers and occupiers. The words ‘death’ and ‘destruction’ are now firmly associated with your name,” he said.

“You have brought terrible misfortune to the Ukrainian people, who will probably never forgive us.”

Since the start of the conflict, Russia has moved to quash almost all forms of dissent, with most of its prominent opposition figures either in jail or exile.

And the Kremlin passed new legislation this year allowing jail terms of up to 15 years for disseminating false information about the military.

Mr Yashin, 39, urged his supporters to stay cheerful.

“Please don’t fall into despair and don’t forget that this is our country,” he said in his final statement. “It is worth fighting for. Be bold, don’t give way to evil, and resist.”

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 12:28

Russia 'abducts top nuclear plant staff’

Ukraine’s atomic power agency has accused Russian forces of abducting two senior staff at its Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station and detaining a third.

Energoatom said the pair were beaten before being driven off in an “unknown direction” on Thursday.

It said the third worker, who was detained, was responsible for safety at the plant.

The Zaporizhzhia site in southeastern Ukraine was captured by Russian troops soon after their 24 February invasion of the country, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff.

Russia did not immediately comment on the allegations. Reuters was unable to verify them independently.

Kyiv has accused Russia of putting pressure on Ukrainian employees at the plant to sign contracts with Russia’s nuclear energy company.

“Through such actions, the occupiers are trying to gain loyalty from the courageous pro-Ukrainian staff... Nevertheless, the invaders fail to do so because the personnel resist,” it said in a statement.

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 13:37

Putin: Anyone who attacks us with nuclear weapons will be wiped out

Vladimir Putin has vowed that any country that dared attack Russia with nuclear weapons would be wiped from the face of the Earth.

The Russian president said his country had no mandate to launch a preventative first nuclear strike, unlike the United States, but that Russia’s advanced hypersonic weapons would ensure it could respond forcefully if it ever came under attack.

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 13:50

Russia may have to do deal in future, Putin says

Vladimir Putin has said Russia would probably have to reach agreements over Ukraine in the future, but felt betrayed by the breakdown of the Minsk agreements.

The Russian leader said Germany and France - which brokered ceasefire agreements in the Belarusian capital Minsk between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 - had betrayed Russia and were now pumping Ukraine with weapons.

In an interview published in Germany’s Zeit magazine on Wednesday, former German chancellor Angela Merkel said the Minsk agreements had been an attempt to “give Ukraine time” to build up its defences.

At a news conference in Kyrgyzstan, Mr Putin said he was disappointed by Ms Merkel’s comments.

Mr Putin also said it was wrong to question the imprisonment of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who had been sentenced hours earlier to eight-and-a-half years in prison for disseminating “fake information” about Russia’s armed forces.

“Who is Yashin?” Putin asked at first, when a reporter asked him to comment on the court ruling, before saying it was wrong to doubt a court’s decision.

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 14:19

Reminder: Russia still set on ‘liberating’ annexed regions, says Kremlin

In case you missed it earlier: The Kremlin is showing no signs of backing down, saying its forces still plan to “liberate” parts of Ukraine that Moscow annexed and claims are its own:

Russia still set on ‘liberating’ annexed portions of Ukraine, says Kremlin

Russia says there is ‘a lot of work ahead’ to liberate the territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia

Jane Dalton9 December 2022 14:48

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