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Ukraine war: Kherson 'successes', Russian state TV ban call and nuclear plant inspections

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By Euronews  with Reuters, AP, AFP
Sofia Klyshnia, 12, stands in the rubble of her former classroom in the same spot her desk was before it was bombed by Russia, Chernihiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.
Sofia Klyshnia, 12, stands in the rubble of her former classroom in the same spot her desk was before it was bombed by Russia, Chernihiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti   -  

1. Russian forces strike nearZaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, claims Ukraine

Ukraine accused Russia of striking near Europe's largest nuclear power station on Thursday.

Ukrainian authorities claimed Russia had carried out artillery strikes against the city of Energodar where the Zaporizhzhia facility is located in southern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed "saboteurs" sent by Kyiv had tried to seize the nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the war. 

A team of UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to visit the plant today.

"The Russians are carrying out artillery strikes on the route by which the IAEA mission must go to the power plant," claimed exiled Energodar mayor Dmytro Orlov on Telegram.

He added that the delegation could not "continue [on] its way" towards the plant "for security reasons."

Earlier this morning, Orlov claimed Russia had fired on the city with "mortars and automatic weapons," posting photos of damaged buildings and plumes of black smoke.

Meanwhile, the Russian army accused Ukrainian troops of having sent a team of "saboteurs" to capture the nuclear power plant.

"Around 6:00 a.m., two groups of Ukrainian army saboteurs, up to sixty people, landed on board seven boats (...) three kilometres northeast of the nuclear power plant of Zaporizhzhia and attempted to take the plant," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

It claimed the Russian army had taken "measures to annihilate the enemy, in particular by making use of military aviation".

Euronews could not independently verify these statements. 

2. Russian military facing 'severe manpower shortages': US

Russia is suffering “severe manpower shortages” and has become more desperate in its efforts to find new troops to fight in Ukraine, according to a disclosure by US intelligence on Wednesday.

Russia is looking to plug troop shortages by compelling soldiers wounded earlier in the war to return to combat, recruiting personnel from private security companies and even from prisons, a US official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The official added that the intelligence community believes Russia’s defence ministry will soon begin recruiting convicted criminals into its armed forces “in exchange for pardons and financial compensation”.

Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 3, 2022.Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

This comes amid an order by Russian president Vladimir Putin last week to increase the number of troops in the Russian army by 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million.

Putin did not specify how this increase would take place. It could be achieved by drafting a bigger number of conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers or a combination of both. 

But some Russian military analysts have predicted it will rely heavily on volunteers, reflecting the Kremlin’s concerns about possible backlash from an attempt to increase the draft.

Colin Kahl, the US Defense Department undersecretary for policy, said earlier in August that his country estimates Russia suffered heavy casualties in the first months of the war.

“There’s a lot of fog in war, but I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in the less than six months,” Kahl said. “Now, that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark.”

The US has frequently downgraded and unveiled intelligence findings over the course of the Ukraine war to highlight plans for Russian misinformation operations or to throw attention on Moscow's difficulties. 

3. Zelenskyy calls for ban of Russian state TV in Europe

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for all Russian state TV channels to be forbidden from airing in the European Union on Wednesday. 

Zelenskyy said: "no Russian propagandist should remain on the territory of the EU," adding that the bloc should prohibit Russia's state television channels from operating on EU territory. 

According to Zelenskyy, such a ban was necessary to protect citizens of Europe from what he called "Russian propaganda". 

"Russian television is still available in European countries which is almost the biggest misinformer in the world," he said. "Tell me, who are they working against? What exactly are they trying to destroy or at least discredit in the first place? European democracy."

Zelenskyy made the remarks in Prague at Forum 2000, an event dedicated to providing global dialogue on freedom, democracy and human rights. 

In May, Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, two news channels sponsored by the Russian state, were banned in the EU.  This prompted a legal challenge by RT, which is still ongoing in the courts. 

4. Ukraine claims successes in Kherson, while Russia says their operation 'failed'

Ukrainian forces have had "successes" in three areas of the Russian-occupied region of Kherson, a Ukrainian regional official said on Wednesday, two days after Kyiv announced the start of a southern counter-offensive to retake territory.

Yuriy Sobolevskyi, the deputy head of Kherson's regional council, told Ukraine's national news broadcaster that Ukrainian troops had enjoyed successes in the Kherson, Beryslav, and Kakhovka districts, but declined to give details.

"Now is the time to support our armed forces... Now is not the time to talk about the specific successes of our lads," he said, echoing the Ukrainian military's insistence on a near-total information blackout about the offensive.

Sobolevskyi urged Ukrainians to support their armed forces with "everything they could" as the offensive was using up a vast quantity of resources.

"Right now, drones and ammunition are being used there like expendable material," he said.

Meanwhile, Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday that Ukraine's attempts to mount a counter-offensive in the south of the country had failed, with their forces suffering heavy losses in equipment and men.

In its daily briefing, Russia's defence ministry said its forces had shot down three Ukrainian helicopters and that Ukraine had lost four fighter jets during two days of fighting around the Mykolaiv-Kriviy Rih frontline and in other areas of southern Ukraine.

Hiro Komae / Associated Press
FILE - Gen. Eberhard Zorn, Chief of Defense of the German Armed ForcesHiro Komae / Associated Press

5. German military chief warns against being complacent about Russian military

Germany's chief of defence has warned that the West must not underestimate Moscow's military strength, saying Russia has the scope to open up a second front should it choose to do so.

"The bulk of the Russian land forces may be tied down in Ukraine at the moment but, even so, we should not underestimate the Russian land forces' potential to open a second theatre of war," General Eberhard Zorn, the highest-ranking soldier of the Bundeswehr, told Reuters in an interview.

Beyond the army, Russia also has a navy and air force at its disposal, he added.

"Most of the Russian navy has not yet been deployed in the war on Ukraine, and the Russian air force still has significant potential as well, which poses a threat to NATO too," Zorn said.

The Bundeswehr regularly supports NATO air policing missions over the Baltic states with fighter jets and, having one of the strongest fleets in the region, is also keeping a close eye on the developments in the Baltic Sea at its doorstep.

One potential hotspot there is Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania, that hosts Russia's Baltic naval fleet and is a deployment location for Russian nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.

Russia has threatened to station nuclear and hypersonic weapons in Kaliningrad should Finland and Sweden join NATO as they are in the process of doing.

Zorn, speaking before the start of an Ukrainian offensive in the south, stressed that Russia continued to have substantial reserves.

"As concerns its military, Russia is very well capable of expanding the conflict regionally," the general said. "That this would be a very unreasonable thing for Russia to do is a different story."

Referring to the military situation in Ukraine, Zorn said the dynamic of Russia's attack had slowed down but Russia was still pressing steadily ahead.