Ukraine updates: UN nuclear watchdog to inspect Zaporizhzhia. Source: DW

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Ukraine updates: UN nuclear watchdog to inspect Zaporizhzhia

21st November 2022

The IAEA team is heading to Zaporizhzhia after the Ukrainian power plant was rocked by shelling. Meanwhile, a donor meeting in Paris is set to raise funds to support Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova. DW rounds up the latest.

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is sending a team of experts to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Monday. 

The inspection by the UN nuclear watchdog comes after the latest round of shelling which caused explosions near the Ukrainian facility. Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. 

Russian forces have occupied the plant shortly after Moscow began its war on Ukraine. It has since come under repeated shelling, with both Russia and Ukraine accusing each other of attacking the site.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement late Sunday: “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately… As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!” 

Mike Martin, a senior fellow of war studies at King’s London College, told DW that the region is expected to see more attacks in the near future. 

“That area around Zaporizhzhia is actually one of the areas of likely a future offensive, because neither side on that southern front line has reinforced greatly or dug in big fortifications, so that will probably be where we will see an offensive in the next six months,” Martin said.

Explosions rock Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Monday, November 21:

Norway supports Ukraine with millions to buy gas for the winter

The Norwegian government announced it is sending Ukraine funds to help the country buy natural gas for the winter.

The fund amounts to 2 billion Norwegian krone (€190.1 million; $194.9 million) which will be channeled through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

“As winter approaches in earnest in Ukraine, Russia has been using energy as a weapon and has been targeting critical infrastructure in an attempt to crush Ukraine’s resistance,” Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“Norwegian support to secure energy supplies is therefore vitally important for Ukraine,” she added.

The latest funds come on top of a pledge Norway made in July to support Ukraine in 2022 and 2023 with 10 billion Norwegian krone (€951 million; $974 million).

Ukraine says further ‘torture’ sites found in Kherson

Ukrainian authorities said they uncovered a network of torture sites in the southern city of Kherson, which was liberated from Russian forces this month.

“Together with police officers and experts, (prosecutors) conducted inspections of four premises where, during the capture of the city, the occupiers illegally detained people and brutally tortured them,” the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement.

On the four sites, Ukrainian authorities said they found a wooden bat, the remains of rubber truncheons and “a device with which the occupiers tortured civilians with electricity.”

The Ukrainian government has already claimed that Russian troops perpetuated abuses on a “horrific” scale in the southern city.

Emerging from 8 months of Russian occupation

WHO warns millions in Ukraine face ‘life-threatening’ winter

The World Health Organization (WHO) appealed for better humanitarian access in Ukraine, warning that millions of people are facing “life-threatening” situations this winter.

“Put simply — this winter will be about survival,” said Hans Kluge, regional director for WHO Europe said during a visit to Kyiv on Monday.

Kluge slammed attacks on hospitals and critical infrastructure as “a clear breach” of international law, saying the WHO has verified 703 attacks on health care infrastructure.

“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” the WHO Europe head told reporters.

“We expect two-three million more people to leave their homes in search of warmth and safety,” he warned, saying they will face serious risk of respiratory infections.

“People’s health cannot be held hostage,” Kluge added.

Moscow says ‘no discussions’ on further mobilization

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were “no discussions” about a second wave of military call-ups of reservists to fight in Ukraine. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered what he called a “partial mobilization” in late September. According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 people had been drafted.

Fears have been mounting across Russia over the possibility of further mobilization. 

The first round of military call-ups triggered panic, with thousands trying to flee the country to avoid being drafted.

Germany offers support for Poland’s air defense

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told the German newspaper Rheinische Post that Berlin “offered to support Poland in securing its airspace — with German Eurofighters and with Patriot air defense systems.” 

Lambrecht noted that Slovakia was using these systems for protection, and added that Berlin sought to extend its presence there “until the end of 2023, possibly even beyond.”

Her remarks came after a missile hit a Polish town bordering Ukraine, killing two people. Warsaw and Western leaders have said the missile was likely from Ukraine’s air defense, while Kyiv initially accused Russia of attacking the NATO member country.

Ukrainian engineers follow de-miners for electricity repairs

Moldova donor meeting to raise aid

A donor conference in Paris is set to kick off on Monday to raise money for Moldova, with some 45 countries and institutions expected to pledge millions of euros as the country fears further destabilization by the war in Ukraine. 

Moldova has been largely reliant on Russian energy supplies, which Moscow has reduced since its invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the EU pledged €250 million (around $256 million) to help Moldova tackle an energy crisis after Moscow halved its natural gas supply.

The country, which borders Ukraine, has also suffered temporary blackouts as Russia’s military launched dozens of strikes on Ukrainian cities last week. 

“Every deadly bomb dropped on Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure has direct consequences for the people of our country,” Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said last week. 

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. A region of the former Soviet republic is controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

In an opinion article published Monday in Politico, Moldova’s President Maia Sandu wrote: “Our vulnerabilities could weaken Ukraine’s resilience, as well as stability on the rest of the continent.” 

UK intelligence: Controlling Svatove in Luhansk ‘highly likely’ a Russian priority

A British intelligence report said it was “highly likely” that Russian leaders saw Ukrainian city of Svatove in Luhansk as a political priority and wanted to regain control of it.

“The Svatove sector is likely now a more vulnerable operational flank of the Russian force,” the report said, as Russian forces had retreated from the western bank of the Dnipro river. 

The report added that Moscow was prioritizing setting up defensive positions “almost certainly partially manned by poorly trained mobilized reservists.”

More coverage on the war in Ukraine

Fears are rising across the world over the nuclear threat of Russia’s war on Ukraine, whether the possibility of an accident at a nuclear plant in Ukraine or the fallout from nuclear weapons. DW examines the short and long-term effects that the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to understand what might happen if a nuclear weapon were detonated today.

Ukrainians who fled the Russian-occupied city of Kherson have made an emotional journey back home one week after its liberation were welcomed in Kherson with cheers and tearful reunions: Watch locals talk about their experience: 

Train arrives in liberated Kherson from Kyiv

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