Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, held a secret meeting with representatives of Ukraine’s defence and security sectors on Sunday. “All the issues we considered are important, but secret, I cannot go into detail,” he said. The meeting was attended by the heads of the armed forces, intelligence agencies, the ministry of defence, the ministry of internal affairs, the Ukrainian security service as well as other defence forces.
Russian artillery fired at Ukrainian towns across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, local officials said on Sunday. The regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said Russian forces struck residential buildings in the main city of Zaporizhzhia and the town of Orikhiv farther east. Ukraine’s military reported shelling of nine more towns in the area on the opposite side of the Dnieper river from the plant.
The UN nuclear watchdog is waiting for clearance for its officials to visit the plant “to help stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there”. The Energoatom head, Petro Kotin, told the Guardian a visit from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could come before the end of the month, but the Ukrainian energy minister, Lana Zerkal, told a local radio station she was not convinced Russia was negotiating in good faith.
The US has said Russia does not want to acknowledge the grave radiological risk at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, adding that was the reason it blocked a nuclear non-proliferation treaty deal’s final draft. “The Russian Federation alone decided to block consensus on a final document at the conclusion of the Tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Russia did so in order to block language that merely acknowledged the grave radiological risk at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine,” said a US state department statement.
Concern about the potential risk of radiation leaks at the plant persists. Ukrainian and Russian authorities issued fresh warnings about the risk of radioactive leaks, after shelling that the sides blamed on each other. Ukraine’s state energy operator warned there are “risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances”. Russia has ignored widespread international calls for the area to be demilitarised.
Ukrainians are likely to experience their coldest winter in decades, its gas chief has said, as the thermostats on its Soviet-era centralised heating systems are set to be switched on later and turned down. Yurii Vitrenko, the head of the state gas company Naftogaz, said indoor temperatures would be set at between 17-18C, about four degrees lower than normal, and he advised people to stock up on blankets and warm clothes for when outdoor temperatures fall to and beyond the -10C winter average.
Germany is replenishing its gas stocks more quickly than expected despite drastic Russian supply cuts and should meet an October target early, the government has said. Europe’s largest economy is heavily dependent on Russian gas and has raced to bolster its reserves before winter, crediting energy-saving measures in recent weeks and massive purchases of gas from other suppliers.
EU foreign ministers are expected to suspend Russian tourist visa facilitation next week. The EU move falls short of an outright ban but would make getting travel documents significantly more complicated and expensive. The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said a ban would lack the necessary support. “I don’t think that to cut the relationship with the Russian civilian population will help and I don’t think that this idea will have the required unanimity,” he told Austria’s ORF TV on Sunday.