Concern about the potential for a radiation leak at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is persisting. Ukraine’s state energy operator has warned there are “risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances” at the Russian-occupied plant. Authorities were distributing iodine tablets to residents who live near the plant in case of radiation exposure.
Russia and Ukraine traded fresh accusations of each other shelling the area around the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, on Saturday. Moscow’s troops have “repeatedly shelled” the site of the plant over the past day, the Ukrainian state nuclear company, Energoatom, said. Russia’s defence ministry has claimed Ukraine’s troops “shelled the territory of the station three times” in the past day.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is trying to negotiate access to the plant for an urgent inspection mission “to help stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there”. Energoatom head Petro Kotin told the Guardian a visit could come before the end of the month, but Ukrainian energy minister Lana Zerkal told a local radio station she was not convinced Russia was negotiating in good faith.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has issued a statement marking Ukraine’s Aviation Day, in which he pledged that Kyiv’s troops would “destroy the occupiers’ potential step by step”. The Ukrainian president vowed that the Russian “invaders will die like dew on the sun”.
Russia has probably increased the intensity of its attacks in the Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region over the past five days, according to British intelligence. Pro-Russia separatists have most likely made progress towards the centre of Pisky village, near Donetsk airport, but Russian forces overall have secured few territorial gains, the latest report from the UK Ministry of Defence says.
Russia has blocked an agreement at the UN aimed at bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The failure to agree to a joint statement, due to Moscow’s objection to a clause about control over the Zaporizhzhia plant, is the latest blow to hopes of maintaining an arms control regime and keeping a lid on a rekindled arms race.
Ukrainian sailors will be allowed to leave the country for work, Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers has said. The prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, said men of draft age employed as crew members would be allowed to leave the country so long as they had permission from their local conscription offices to cross the border.
Britain’s defence ministry has said it is giving six underwater drones to Ukraine to help clear its coastline of mines and make grain shipments safer. In addition, dozens of Ukrainian navy personnel will be taught to use the drones over the coming months, the ministry said.
Kazakhstan, a neighbour and ally of Russia, has suspended all arms exports for a year, its government said, amid the conflict in Ukraine and western sanctions against Moscow.
Poland and the Czech Republic have agreed to protect the airspace of their Nato ally Slovakia, as it upgrades its air force from legacy Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters to a new batch of F-16 jets from the US.