Ukraine’s Zelenskiy warns Europeans to face dark winter

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  • Zelensky: Russia plans ‘decisive energy blow on all Europeans’
  • Russia delays reopening of pipeline to Europe
  • The IAEA says the line is down at the Zaporizhia plant but backup is working

KYIV, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Europeans could expect a tough winter as Russia’s offensive in his country cut Moscow’s oil and gas exports.

Zelenskiy spoke after Moscow shut down a key pipeline supplying Russian gas to the continent on Saturday night.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy blow on all Europeans this winter,” he said in his daily video address.

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Moscow has cited Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine and technical problems for energy disruptions. European countries that have backed the Kyiv government with diplomatic and military support have accused Russia of weaponizing energy supplies.

Some analysts say shortages and rising living costs as winter approaches threaten to erode Western support for governments to deal with disgruntled populations.

Last week Moscow said it would close the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, its main gas channel to Germany, and G7 countries announced planned price caps on Russian oil exports.

The Kremlin has said it will freeze oil sales to any countries that enforce the cap.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his government plans to completely cut off gas supplies in December, but he promised that his country would do so in the winter.

“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholes told a press conference in Berlin.

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Power line down in Zaporizhia

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has again lost external power, UN inspectors said on Saturday.

The last remaining main external power line was cut, although a reserve line continued to supply power to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement. read more

It said only one of its six reactors was operational.

The plant was seized by Russian troops shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent his army to the border on February 24 and has become a focal point of the conflict.

Each side blamed the other for the nearby shelling, which raised fears it could trigger a nuclear disaster.

The situation around the plant has remained calm so far on Sunday, said an official of the Russian-established administration in Zaporizhia.

Speaking on Komsomolskaya Pravda radio, the official, Igor Rogov, said there was no shelling or infiltration. Russia has twice accused Ukraine of trying to seize the plant in the past two days. Ukraine has reported that Russia launched an attack in the area.

Rokov was quoted as saying that IAEA experts would continue to work at the plant at least until Monday.

An IAEA mission last week visited the plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian workers, and some experts remained there until the IAEA issued its report. read more

The plant said in a statement on Saturday that the fifth reactor was shut down “as a result of continuous shelling by Russian occupation forces” and that there was “insufficient capacity from the last reserve line to operate two reactors”.

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Zelenskiy blamed Russian shelling for the Aug. 25 cutoff, which cut off the first Zaporizhzhia from the national grid, narrowly avoiding a radiation leak. That shutdown triggered blackouts across Ukraine.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of stockpiling heavy weapons there to discourage shelling of Ukraine. Russia, which denies having any such weapons there, has resisted international calls to relocate troops and demilitarize the region.

On other fronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at the Antonievsky Bridge near the southern city of Kherson occupied by Russian forces.

The bridge has been severely damaged by Ukrainian missiles in recent weeks, but Russian troops are trying to repair it or set up a pontoon crossing or barges to maintain supplies to Russian units on the right bank of the Dnipro River.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive last week targeting the south, particularly the Kherson region that was captured by the Russians early in the conflict.

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Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Kyiv; Additional reporting by Michael Shields, Ron Bobsky and Reuters bureaus; Written by Simon Cameron-Moore and Angus MacSwan; Editing: William Mallard and Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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