Moscow and kyiv accuse each other of bombing Europe's largest nuclear power plant, a first ship carrying grain exported by Ukraine has arrived at its destination, Russian forces are trampling in the east of the country… On the 166th day of the conflict, Le Figaro takes stock, this Monday 8 august, on the latest information from the war in Ukraine.
Moscow on Monday accused Ukrainian forces of bombing Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporijjia, held by the Russian army. The two belligerents have been accusing each other since Friday of bombing this power plant located in southern Ukraine which fell into the hands of Russian soldiers in early March., without any independent source being able to confirm.
The bombing of the Zaporizhia site “by the Ukrainian armed forces” is “potentially extremely dangerous” and “could have catastrophic consequences for a large area, including for European territory”, warned the Kremlin spokesperson on Monday, Dmitry Peskov. The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that the latest strike, during the night from Saturday to Sunday, had damaged a high-voltage line supplying electricity to two Ukrainian regions.
The head of the Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom, Petro Kotine, for its part called on Monday to dislodge the Russian occupiers and to create a “demilitarized zone” on the site of the power plant. “There should be a mission of peacekeepers which would also include experts from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and other security organizations”, he continued in a video posted on Telegram. According to him, the Zaporizhia power station is occupied by “approximately 500 soldiers and 50 heavy vehicles, tanks and trucks”. The United States has called on Russia to cease all military activity in and around nuclear power plants in Ukraine..
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday raised the specter of the Chernobyl disaster and called for new sanctions against Russia. “The world must not forget Chernobyl and the fact that Zaporizhzhia is the largest power plant in Europe. The Chernobyl disaster (in 1986), it’s the explosion of a reactor and the Zaporizhzhia power plant has six reactors”, he declared Monday evening in his daily video address.
The UN Secretary-General on Monday described any attack on nuclear power plants as “suicidal” and called for an end to military operations around the one in Zaporizhia, so that the International Atomic Energy Agency (DEBT) can access it.
“Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing”, said Antonio Guterres during a press conference in Tokyo. “I hope these attacks will end. At the same time, I hope that the IAEA will be able to access the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Europe, scene since Friday of bombings of which the Russian and Ukrainian belligerents have mutually accused each other, he added. For a week, the UN Secretary General continues to worry about the nuclear risks for humanity which is only “a misunderstanding” or “an error of judgment” from “nuclear annihilation”, he warned on August 1 in a speech in New York.
Next to 80.000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Pentagon number three declared on Monday, Colin Kahl, emphasizing that the objectives announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin have not yet been achieved.
"The Russians probably lost 70.000 or 80.000 soldiers in less than six months”, Colin Kahl told the press, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs, noting that this figure covers the dead and injured. Russian forces also lost “3,000 or 4,000” armored vehicles, and may lack precision guided missiles, including air-to-ground and sea-to-ground missiles, he added. “This is quite remarkable given that the Russians failed to achieve any of Vladimir Putin’s goals at the start of the war”, continued the American official. kyiv reported at least 10.000 dead and 30.000 wounded in his troops.
According to a military source who requested anonymity, the Ukrainian army, who was strong 170.000 active soldiers and 100.000 reservists at the start of the war 24 february, strengthened to achieve 300.000 at 350.000 military. Before the invasion of Ukraine 24 february, some 150.000 at 200.000 Russian soldiers were deployed on the borders of Ukraine, according to Western estimates.
A first ship carrying grain exported by Ukraine docked at its final destination on Monday, Turkey, announced kyiv as the arrival of another ship which was to dock in Lebanon on Sunday was delayed. The Turkish cargo ship Polarnet which left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk on Friday with 12.000 tons of corn, arrived as planned at its destination after its inspection by the Joint Coordination Center (CCC) established in Istanbul under the terms of the international agreement signed in July, announced in a press release the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure.
The Razoni, a cargo ship flying the Sierra Leonean flag which left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday, August 1 with 26.000 tons of corn and which should have landed in Tripoli on Sunday (Lebanon) has still not arrived at its destination. According to the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon, “the final buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the cargo due to the delay in delivery conditions (five months)». “The sender is therefore looking for another recipient. It can be in Lebanon or in another country., added the Ukrainian embassy on Twitter.
A ship loaded with 60.000 tons of grain left on Monday for the first time since the start of the Pivdenny war, one of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports affected by the agreement on the resumption of grain exports. “Over the next two weeks, we plan to reach a rate of three to five ships per day”, said the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure. In total, eight ships loaded with grain have already left Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine signed two separate agreements, sponsored by Turkey and the United Nations, the 22 July in Istanbul, which allow the resumption of exports of Ukrainian cereals despite the war and of Russian agricultural products despite Western sanctions.
The World Bank announced Monday additional aid of 4,5 billion dollars for Ukraine, thanks to funds provided by the United States, in order to help the government meet the “urgent needs generated by the war”. This additional aid should in particular enable the government and local authorities to ensure social spending, retirement or health, specifies the World Bank in a press release. The aid will be paid in installments to the Ukrainian government, with a first payment of 3 billion dollars this month, said the US Department of the Treasury, in a separate press release.
On his side, the Pentagon announced a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine, for an amount of one billion dollars, which notably includes additional missiles for the American Himars precision artillery systems.
To Donetsk, one of the two regions of the Donbass coal basin, where Russian efforts are concentrated, and whose Ukrainian president ordered the 30 July evacuation of the population, the Ukrainian general staff claimed on Sunday to have repelled an assault near Virnopillia and reported several Russian withdrawals, especially near the towns of Sloviansk, Bakhmout et Avdiivka.
“The area of engagement in Donbass appears to have decreased significantly over the past two weeks. The northern end of the Donbass salient (Siversk-Sloviansk) seems to have become very calm”, Phillips O’Brien observed on Sunday. “What remains of Russian offensive action is concentrated on Bakhmut and a push from the city of Donetsk”, he specified.
The British Ministry of Defense estimates that “Russia is most likely laying anti-personnel mines to protect and reduce freedom of movement along its defensive lines in Donbass”. And warns that “these mines are likely to cause large-scale losses both within the army and the civilian population”.
In the field, Ukrainian forces again struck an important bridge in Kherson during the night from Sunday to Monday, a town in southern Ukraine occupied by Russian troops since 3 mars, announced the kyiv authorities. The Antonovsky Bridge is strategic and vital for supplies as it is the only one connecting the city to the south bank of the Dnieper and the rest of the Kherson region.. Ukrainian forces have been announcing a counter-offensive in this region for several weeks in order to reconquer these territories lost in the very first days of the Russian offensive..
Ukrainian security services said Monday they had foiled an assassination attempt on Ukraine's defense minister and head of military intelligence and neutralized several of its alleged organizers. And SBU (security services of Ukraine) announced on his Telegram account that he had “arrested Russian secret service killers who were planning the assassinations” of Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov and head of military intelligence Kyrylo Boudanov. He released a video of these arrests in which we see an armed group knocking down and handcuffing two men in civilian clothes who are heading towards a car..
The arrest of these two men, one of whom arrived from Russia to Ukraine via Belarus, took place in Kovel, in the northwest of Ukrainian territory. According to the SBU, the people arrested were preparing “the physical liquidation” of these two senior Ukrainian defense officials as well as a “known Ukrainian activist” whose name he does not mention. Each of these murders was to be rewarded with a sum ranging from 100.000 at 150.000 dollars, said the SBU.
A Ukrainian court sentenced 10 years in prison for Russian tanker accused of shooting at residential building, Ukrainian security services announced on Monday (SBU). Sergeant Mikhail Kulikov, taken prisoner at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was found guilty of “violation of the laws and customs of war” by a court in Cherniguiv, in northern Ukraine.
According to the SBU, “it was established that the Russian tanker had crossed the 24 February the border of Ukraine from Belarus” then, advancing towards this regional capital hard hit by the fighting, “bombarded localities”. «No 26 february, following the order of his commander, he notably fired at a residential building of 11 floors housing civilians. Several apartments were destroyed”, continues the SBU, according to whom his tank was intercepted shortly afterwards and Sergeant Kulikov captured.
Russian journalist Marina Ovsiannikova, famous for interrupting the news of a Russian state channel with a poster against the offensive in Ukraine, was sentenced to a new fine on Monday for denouncing the conflict. Found guilty by a Moscow administrative court of having “discredited” the Russian army, Marina Ovsiannikova will have to pay a fine of 40.000 roubles (environ 650 euros at the current exchange rate), she said on her Telegram account.
His lawyer, Dmitri Zakhvatov, told AFP that the journalist had been convicted on the basis of a message she had published on Facebook. She had already been sentenced at the end of July to pay a fine for the same reason. Two convictions less than six months apart pave the way for a criminal case, with potential much heavier legal consequences.
Marina Ovsiannikova, who continues to strongly criticize the offensive in Ukraine despite legal threats, also shared the text of his defense, all in irony, which she read in front of the judge on Monday. “I admit it’s good (…) America and Europe which led to the fact that in Russia there is no longer freedom of expression, independent tribunal or free election. Or that people are imprisoned for calling for peace”, she said in particular.
Finland sees record number of asylum seekers after Russia invades Ukraine, surpassing the record of 2015 during the migration crisis, Finnish authorities said on Monday. «No 4 august, people fleeing Ukraine because of Russia's military attack submitted 35.074 requests for temporary protection”, said the Finnish Immigration Service in a statement. More 37.000 people are currently registered in the reception system, “a number never reached”. The previous record in the Nordic country was 32.000, during the migration crisis 2015.
Russian nationals can no longer visit the Château de Vincennes (Val de Marne), which also houses archives of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, since an internal directive taken following the invasion of Ukraine, AFP learned on Monday from consistent sources.
Vincennes Castle, located south-east of Paris, notably contains one of the centers of the Defense Historical Service (SHD), whose libraries and archives are accessible to the public under certain conditions. The 28 July, two Russian women were refused entry. Questioned by AFP, the Ministry of the Armed Forces explained that it had, “following the invasion of Ukraine”, “restricts access to the ministry’s military holdings to Russian nationals”.