Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency continued their inspections at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. While IAEA boss Rafael Grossi reported on the visit on Friday evening after returning to Vienna, the Ukrainian power plant operator had already had doubts about the success of the mission. It was initially unclear how long this should last. Meanwhile, Russia has said it will not store heavy weapons on the nuclear power plant site.
Ukraine reported the destruction of a Russian rear depot. Moscow announced that Ukraine suffered heavy casualties in its counter-offensive. CDU leader Friedrich Merz spoke out in favor of delivering German Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine - the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal had previously demanded this in a dpa interview.
Ukrainian power plant operator doubts IAEA mission
After visiting the nuclear power plant, Grossi came to a partly positive conclusion. Damage caused by the shelling of the power plant is obvious and unacceptable, but important safety elements such as the power supply to the power plant are working, said the IAEA chief on Friday evening after returning from Ukraine at Vienna Airport. The cooperation between the Russian occupiers and the Ukrainian personnel also works to some extent on a professional level. His greatest concern remains that the nuclear power plant could be severely damaged by further shelling. He expects a detailed analysis of the safety of the power plant by the experts who remain on site in the course of the next week, said Grossi.
While the IAEA employees were still on duty at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and looking for possible damage from the weeks of shelling, the power plant operator Enerhoatom had expressed doubts about the success of the mission. "The occupiers lie, falsify facts and evidence," Enerhoatom wrote on Telegram, referring to Russia. The delegation was denied access to the crisis center of the plant. Russian military personnel are currently stationed there. Russia wanted no facts about the nuclear power plant to be known.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia has not stationed any heavy weapons at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. "I responsibly declare that we have no heavy weapons on the site of the nuclear power plant or in the adjacent areas," he said in Moscow. He hopes the IAEA experts can see for themselves. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of attacking the power plant in the war.
According to Ukraine, it fired on Russian artillery positions not far from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. "It has been confirmed that our troops in the area of the towns of Cherson and Enerhodar destroyed three enemy artillery systems with precise hits," the Ukrainian general staff said on Facebook on Friday evening. An ammunition depot and at least one company of the Russian army were also said to have been destroyed.
Different information on the progress of the fighting
The counter-offensive launched by Ukraine in the south of the country has largely failed, according to Russia's Defense Minister Shoigu. "The Ukrainian armed forces continue to attempt attacks in the area between Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih and in other directions, the enemy is suffering heavy casualties," he said. Kiev's only goal in the offensive is "to create the illusion among Western curators that the Ukrainian army is capable of attacking."
Kyiv reported that it had destroyed five Russian ammunition depots near Cherson. The information cannot be independently verified. According to the coordination staff responsible for prisoners of war, Ukraine and Russia exchanged prisoners in the Donetsk region. 14 Ukrainians were released, including an officer.
Merz: Also help with Leopard 2 tanks
Union faction leader Friedrich Merz has spoken out in favor of a delivery of German Leopard 2 battle tanks to support Ukraine in the fight against the Russian war of aggression. "We should also help Ukraine in this respect, so that they are able to push back Russian aggression," said the CDU chairman on the sidelines of a meeting with the leaders of the Union faction in Murnau, Upper Bavaria. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Schmyhal, had previously called for such a delivery.
Russia promises grain deliveries
Russia, meanwhile, is ready to supply up to 30 million tons of grain for foreign markets in the second half of 2022 under agreements with the United Nations. "This will make it possible to support countries in need and to contribute to stabilizing the food situation in the world," said the Ministry of Agriculture in Moscow on Friday. According to estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, the grain harvest in Russia this year will reach 130 million tons, of which 87 million tons will be wheat.
The United Nations fears food shortages and hunger in poor parts of the world if Ukraine is lost as a major grain supplier as a result of Russia's war of aggression. Agricultural exports via the Ukrainian Black Sea ports have been blocked for months. War opponents Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement separately with Turkey on July 22, through UN mediation, to allow grain exports from Ukraine from three ports. It is estimated that more than 20 million tons of grain products are stored in Ukraine.