Energy problems in Ukraine and Europe take center stage

Kyiv, Ukraine — Energy problems have plagued Ukraine and Europe as much of the Russian-occupied region that hosts a largely crippled nuclear power plant was reported temporarily out of power on Sunday.

Only one of the six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia facility was connected to the power grid, and Russia’s main pipeline carrying natural gas to Germany remained closed.

Fighting in Ukraine and pipeline disputes are behind electricity and natural gas shortages that have worsened as Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has dragged on for a seventh month .

Both issues will take center stage this week. UN nuclear agency inspectors are due to brief the Security Council on Tuesday on their inspection and safeguard visit to the Zaporizhzhia power plant. European Union energy ministers were due to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss the bloc’s electricity market, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “is not working. more”.

Much of the Zaporizhzhia region, including the key town of Melitopol, lost power on Sunday.

But electricity has gradually been restored, said Vladimir Rogov, the head of the local administration installed by Russia in Enerhodar, the city where the nuclear power plant is located. In the southwest, electricity was also cut in several parts of the port city of Kherson, according to Russian news agency Tass. Rogov blamed the outages at both locations on damage to high-voltage power lines.

While Rogov said no new shelling of the area around the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia power plant was reported on Sunday, the effects of previous strikes persisted.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that the plant had been disconnected from its last main external power line and one reactor had gone offline due to grid restrictions. Another reactor was still operating and generating power for cooling and other critical safety functions at the site, as well as outdoors for households, factories and others via a backup power line, it said. the IAEA.

Russian forces have held the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, since early March, and its Ukrainian personnel continue to operate it.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said he would brief the UN Security Council on Tuesday on a mission he led to the plant last week. The 14-member delegation braved gunfire and artillery blasts to reach the factory last Thursday after months of negotiations to allow passage through the front lines of the fighting.

Without blaming any of the warring parties, Grossi said his main concerns were the physical integrity of the plant, its power supply and the condition of the staff.

Europe’s energy situation remained clouded by the war in Ukraine.

Just hours before Russian energy company Gazprom resumed deliveries of natural gas to Germany via a major gas pipeline after a three-day shutdown, it announced on Friday that it would not be able to do so until leaks from oil in the turbines would not be repaired.

It is the latest development in a saga in which Gazprom has put forward technical problems as the reason for cutting gas flows through Nord Stream 1 – explanations that German officials have dismissed as cover for a political power game. Rejecting Gazprom’s latest justification for the shutdown, Germany’s Siemens Energy – which made the turbines used by the pipeline – said leaking turbines can be repaired while gas continues to flow through the pipeline.

Von der Leyen blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine for Europe’s energy crisis. Ahead of the meeting of EU energy ministers next Friday, she said electricity and natural gas prices should be decoupled and she supported a price cap on the Russian gas pipeline exported to Europe .

Natural gas is one of the main fuels used in electricity generation and is a major source of income for Russia, along with oil exports.

On the battlefield of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday, without providing details, that his country’s forces had regained control of two settlements in southern Ukraine and one in the separatist eastern region of Donetsk.

Russian shelling hit the port city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine overnight, damaging a medical center, the city’s mayor said on Sunday.

Mykolaiv and its surrounding region have been hit daily for weeks. On Saturday, a child was killed and five people were injured in rocket attacks in the area, Governor Vitaliy Kim said.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych did not report any injuries in the nighttime attack, which he said also damaged residences. Mykolaiv, which lies 30 kilometers (20 miles) upstream from the Black Sea on the Southern Bug River, is a major port and center for shipbuilding.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, Russian shelling set fire to a large wooden restaurant complex on Saturday evening, according to the region’s emergency services. One person was killed and two others injured in shelling in the area, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the eastern Donetsk region where Russian forces are trying to take full control, said four people were killed in shelling on Saturday.


Andrew Katell contributed to this story from New York.


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