Russia said Thursday that it prevented a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, according to a senior Russian official.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev blamed the shelling of the nuclear plant on Ukrainian forces, saying they are using “Western weapons which could lead to a global catastrophe.”
Patrushev’s statement comes after Ukraine’s general staff said earlier Russian attacks targeted large areas of the country with heavy shelling, damaging infrastructure and energy supplies to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.
The plant in southern Ukraine has been disconnected, officials said, with damage to high voltage lines leaving it reliant on diesel generators, Ukrainian generation company Energoatom said.
“The enemy is trying to keep the temporarily captured territories, concentrating its efforts on restraining the actions of the Defense Forces in certain areas,” Ukraine’s general staff said on Thursday.
Both sides deny the others’ claims. However, heavy fighting is reported in eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, according to reports, and Russian strikes were reported in Kriviy Rih, in central Ukraine, and in Sumy and Kharkiv, in the northeast.
On Thursday, the G-7 group of democratic countries will meet in the western German city of Muenster for two days to discuss how to best coordinate and continue providing support for Ukraine. The meeting comes as the new Russian attacks on energy infrastructure cause widespread power cuts, according to reports.
Speaking at news conference in Jordan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday his country had called on the United Nations to help fulfill part of the Black Sea grain deal that would ease Russia’s food exports.
Ukraine, however, said it made no new commitment to the deal. On Thursday, Ukraine’s Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook saying the country had never used the Black Sea grain “corridor” for military purposes and had never intended to do so.
In a reversal of an earlier decision, Russia said it is resuming its participation in an agreement facilitating the shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. “The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment appear sufficient, and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Russia suspended its participation Saturday after alleging Ukraine used drones to attack the Russian Black Sea fleet.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement in July with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukrainian grain shipments and allow for Russian shipments of fertilizer amid a global food crisis.
In a statement issued Tuesday through his spokesman, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “warmly” welcomed the Russian announcement on its resumed participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Russia’s suspension interrupted shipments in recent days, while the other parties to the arrangement worked to get some shipments out of Ukrainian ports and to carry out some of the inspections in Istanbul called for under the deal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the agreement Wednesday as “a significant diplomatic result for our country and the whole world” after Russia rejoined a deal.
Iran, North Korea weapons
The Pentagon on Tuesday raised “concerns” that Russia may try to get more weapons from Iran and North Korea to use in its war against Ukraine.
Russia recently has targeted civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones, and Iranian personnel are helping the Russian military launch these drone attacks from the Crimean Peninsula, according to the United States.
Iran has repeatedly denied it is providing Russia drones and military support.
“We do have concerns that Russia may also seek to acquire additional advanced munition capabilities from Iran—for example, surface-to-surface missiles—to use in Ukraine,” said Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder.
CNN has reported that Iran is preparing to send Russia about 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface, short-range ballistic missiles and more suicide drones.
Also Wednesday, the White House accused North Korea of shipping artillery shells to Russia via other countries, something North Korea denies.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. believes North Korea is "trying to make it appear as though they're being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa."
He declined to provide a specific estimate of the quantity of ammunition being sent to bolster the Russian effort but said they are “not going to change the course of the war.”
Russia was denied Wednesday in its request to the U.N. Security Council to establish a formal inquiry into its charge that the United States and Ukraine have biological weapons programs in Ukraine, a claim that Kyiv and Washington deny.
China was the only country to vote with Russia in support of a draft Security Council resolution on the measure. The United States, Britain and France voted against it, and the other 10 council members abstained.
U.N. disarmament officials have long said they are not aware of any biological weapons programs in Ukraine.