Ukraine: Fire extinguished at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — live updates

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  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its ninth day
  • Fire breaks out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant
  • Ukrainian, Russian negotiators reach deal on humanitarian corridors
  • Zelenskyy requests face-to-face talks with Putin
  • Fighting reportedly taking place near major Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

This article was last updated at 06:44 UTC/GMT

New Development Bank puts Russia transactions on hold

The New Development Bank (NDB) established by the BRICS group of emerging nations says it is suspending new transactions in Russia. 

“In light of unfolding uncertainties and restrictions, NDB has put new transactions in Russia on hold. NDB will continue to conduct business in full conformity with the highest compliance standards as an international institution,” it said in a statement.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — known together as BRICS — are members of the NDB.

Google suspends ad sales in Russia

Tech giant Google says it will halt all online advertising in Russia, in a ban that covers search, YouTube and outside publishing partners. Earlier, Google had stopped Russian state media from buying or selling ads on its platforms. 

“In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we’re pausing Google ads in Russia. The situation is evolving quickly, and we will continue to share updates when appropriate,” the company said in a statement. 

On Thursday, Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor asked Google to stop showing political ads with “false information” which it alleged aimed to “misinform” the Russian audience. 

‘Unprecedented situation,’ says nuclear expert

DW spoke to nuclear safety expert Charles Castro about the fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

“Of course a fire is very concerning at any nuclear plant. The nuclear plants are designed for severe fires and have counter measures and operators are trained to combat a fire situation. Plants are extremely robust to contain any radiation within the plant.”

But “obviously this is an unprecedented situation,” he said.

The UN has urged Russian forces to stop the attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear plant and Castro concurred.

“All attacks need to be stopped and operators need to be allowed to do their jobs to recover the reactors and safely shut them down so radiation can be contained.”

Map showing Ukraine's nuclear reactors

Fire extinguished at Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday that the fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been put out.

Ukraine said in the early hours of Friday Russian forces had attacked the plant and a five-story training facility building next to it was on fire.

A statement from the emergency services posted on Facebook said there were no victims in the fire. 

Airbnb suspending operations in Russia, Belarus

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb said in a tweet the international short-term rental bookings site is suspending “all operations in Russia and Belarus.”

Earlier in the week, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the company was working with hosts to provide lodging for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country for free.

Emergency services access Zaporizhzhia fire

Ukraine said emergency services were able to access the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant where a training facility on the site’s exterior caught fire following Russian shelling.

Both the IAEA and the White House said they were actively monitoring the attack on Europe’s largest nuclear plant and that there has not been an increase in radiation levels.

Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin requests tanks and warships

The Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin has requested the German government provide Kyiv with tanks and warships to face down a Russian invasion.

Additional items on Ukraine’s list of requests include infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, such as self-propelled howitzers, air defense systems, combat and support helicopters, reconnaissance and combat drones and transport aircraft.

Ukraine’s formal request to the Chancellery, the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry read in part, “In view of the extremely tense security situation because of the ongoing Russian aggression, the Ukrainian government is seeking that this request be processed and favorably reviewed as quickly as possible.”

The note adds Putin started a “war of annihilation” against Ukraine.

Berlin reversed its defense and Russia policy of many decades seemingly overnight following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Germany has already provided 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles after initially promising just 5,000 helmets.

Zelenskyy: ‘Europe needs to wake up’

“Europe needs to wake up,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video posted to Telegram after Russian troops shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

“I am addressing all Ukrainians, all Europeans and everyone who knows the word Chernobyl,” he said. “Tens of thousands had to be evacuated and Russia wants to repeat that, and is already repeating it, but six times bigger.”

He added that Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors and “if there is an explosion it is the end for everyone.” 

“Do not let Europe die in the nuclear catastrophe,” he concluded.  

Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

UK calls UN Security Council meeting

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the war in Ukraine.

Johnson said Putin could “threaten the safety of all of Europe.”

China-backed bank suspends business with Russia, Belarus

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said it will be suspending business with Russia and Belarus, which have been hit by severe international sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine. Belarus has provided Moscow with assistance and logistical support, including the use of its territory to mount the assault.

“In the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review,” the bank said in a statement, adding that management would do its “utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB.”

“AIIB stands ready to extend financing flexibly and quickly and support members who have been adversely impacted by the war,” the statement added without much detail.

The AIIB is a multilateral institution launched in 2016 at the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping to balance Western dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Russia is one of the founding members of the AIIB, holding a 6% vote in operations and has a seat on the board of the bank. The Bank of China holds a 27% stake, though Russia is the third-largest stakeholder after India.

Biden and Zelenskyy speak about Zaporizhzhia fire

US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the fire that broke out at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant following Russian shelling, the White House said in a series of tweets.

The White House wrote that Biden “joined President Zelenskyy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”

The White House added that Biden “also spoke this evening with Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the US Department of Energy and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to receive an update on the situation at the plant. The President will continue to be briefed regularly.”

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that she had spoken with her Ukrainian counterpart and said that the site’s reactors are protected by “robust containment structures” and “are being safely shut down.”

IAEA: No change reported in Zaporizhzhia radiation levels

Shortly after Russian shelling led to a fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there had been no change in reported radiation levels. 

Fighting has been reported at Zaporizhzhia, with Ukrainian authorities saying a training site outside the main plant is on fire. Firefighters have been unable to tend to the blaze as Russia keeps firing, an official from the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said.

The plant director said on Ukraine 24 television that radiation at the facility was secure.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had resorted to “nuclear terror” by shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Fire breaks out at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after shelling

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted, “Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out.”

Kuleba added, “If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!”

Ukraine’s energy ministry told Russia’s RIA news agency that firefighters are unable to tend to the blaze at the plant as Russian troops continue to fire on them.

Plant spokesman Andry Tuz said shells were striking the plant and one of the six reactors was on fire. He said the reactor that was hit was under renovation and therefore nonoperational.

Tuz said it was imperative to cease fighting so firefighters could contain the blaze.

Dmytro Humenyuk of the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety told Hromadske that the power units have several layers of fuel protection. The plant generates 25% of Ukraine’s electricity.

Humenyuk explained that under certain conditions, the power units can withstand up to 10 tons but are not designed to be hit by bombs or projectiles. If the reactor is seriously damaged and nuclear fuel exposed, the resulting catastrophe would be as bad as Chernobyl and if more than one reactor is hit, the result would be even more horrific.

Warning of a “severe danger” if the nuclear reactors were hit by shelling, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it was in contact with Ukrainian authorities.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Thursday

Russia vowed to push forward with its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, despite world condemnation and massive economic sanctions from the West. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country’s “operation” in Ukraine will continue for now. He said any peace accord must include the “demilitarization” of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded the “heroism” of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. He claimed the war is “going to plan” and accused Ukrainian forces of using human shields without evidence.

On the other side, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is willing to meet face-to-face with Putin. He said Western countries should provide Ukraine with planes if they are unwilling to enact a no-fly zone.

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators agreed to set up humanitarian corridors for civilians during a second round of cease-fire talks in Belarus. Talks are expected to continue next week.

The EU also agreed to a protection arrangement for Ukrainian refugees.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for a cease-fire in Ukraine and said a war is being waged against the Ukrainian people. At the same time, he said pursuing a “regime change” policy of taking out Putin is not an option.

Sources in the German Economy Ministry said Berlin is expected to ship anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Putin, and warned the Russian leader he is making a “major mistake” in Ukraine. The French president said he believes the “worst is yet to come” in Ukraine following the conversation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed alarm about fighting in Enerhodar, which is located near the major Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

The US and UK unveiled new sanctions targeting pro-Putin Russian oligarchs.

wd, ar/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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