September 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Kara Fox and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 0143 GMT (0943 HKT) September 3, 2022
18 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:00 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Officials from multiple countries are part of IAEA mission at Ukrainian plant, Russian nuclear operator says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

International Atomic Energy Agency officials from Spain, Jordan, Albania, Lithuania and Romania are currently working at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a representative of the Russian nuclear operator Rosenergoatom.

The unnamed Rosenergoatom representative was quoted by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

A team of five inspectors from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog remains at the site, with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi pledging that the IAEA is "not going anywhere" and will have a "continued presence" at the plant.

Rosenergoatom is the Russian nuclear power station operations subsidiary of Atomenergoprom.

9:30 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Finance ministers from G7 nations plan to implement a price cap on Russian oil and petrol products

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Oil storage tanks stand at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery, operated by Rosneft Oil Co., as tankers sail beyond in Tuapse, Russia, on March 23, 2020.
Oil storage tanks stand at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery, operated by Rosneft Oil Co., as tankers sail beyond in Tuapse, Russia, on March 23, 2020. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Finance ministers from the G7 nations released a joint statement announcing that they have agreed to implement a price cap on Russian oil and petroleum products in order to “reduce Russian revenues and Russia's ability to fund its war of aggression.”

“Today we confirm our joint political intention to finalise and implement a comprehensive prohibition of services which enable maritime transportation of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products globally – the provision of such services would only be allowed if the oil and petroleum products are purchased at or below a price (“the price cap”) determined by the broad coalition of countries adhering to and implementing the price cap,” the statement reads.

The price cap's goal is to reduce Russian revenues, weaken the country's ability to fund its war and Ukraine and also ease the impact of the war on global energy prices, the statement said.

The measure builds on existing sanctions, particularly those in the sixth EU package, it added.

Ministers said they commit “to urgently work" on the finalizing and implementing the price cap.

Ahead of this G7 meeting, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would no longer supply oil and petroleum products to countries that choose to implement such restrictions.

"If they impose restrictions on prices, we will simply not supply oil and petroleum products to such companies or states that impose restrictions as we will not work non-competitively," Novak said previously, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
8:45 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Norwegian energy firm completes exit from Russia

From CNN's Robert North

An aerial view taken on February 16, shows the headquarters of Equinor in Fornebu, Baerum, Norway.
An aerial view taken on February 16, shows the headquarters of Equinor in Fornebu, Baerum, Norway. (Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/AFP/Getty Images)

Norwegian energy company Equinor says it has fully completed its withdrawal from Russia.

In May, Equinor announced its plans to pull out of four joint ventures with Russian oil firm Rosneft and leave an oilfield, the Kharyaga project.

That exit has been completed and there are “no remaining assets or projects in Russia," Equinor said. 

It’s the first major Western oil firm to fully withdraw from Russia, according to Reuters.

Other big firms like ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and French firm TotalEnergies have all committed to withdrawing from the country or stopping investments, but they are still in the process of completing exits. 

In May, Shell announced the sale of its Russian lubricant and retail energy business, but said it was still in the process of phasing out its other Russian businesses.

In February, BP said it would exit its 19.75% stake in Rosneft but said that sanctions and Russian rules meant that it had not been able to sell its shares yet.

TotalEnergies has sold some of its Russian oilfields but says the deals would not complete until later in September.

ExxonMobil has also outlined plans to exit its operations at the Sakhalin-1 energy project, and said it would no longer invest in new developments in Russia.

8:42 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

One reactor at Zaporizhzhia plant still functioning, says pro-Russian official

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Olga Voitovych

A motorcade transporting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission arrives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, on September 1.
A motorcade transporting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission arrives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, on September 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

One out of the six nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia power plant is operational, the head of the Russian-backed administration in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia said.

"One power unit remains in operation on Friday at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, delivering 60% of its capacity," said Yevgeny Balitsky, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Until recently, two reactors were providing power.

Balitsky said his administration had shown details of alleged Ukrainian shelling in the area to the UN nuclear inspectors that visited the plant Thursday .

The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "recorded all the objects we showed. ... They said ‘we don’t give assessments of the military situation.’ … They recorded the incoming shells, they are in the protocols, the hits, we showed them everything," he said, adding that the Russian-backed authorities were interested in the IAEA's official view on the operation of the plant and the shelling.

This comes as Ukrainian and Russian agencies continue to accuse each other of trying to subvert the mission of the IAEA to safeguard the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine accused the Russians of trying to prevent the IAEA mission from getting to know the facts on the ground, which it said will make it difficult for the agency to "make an impartial assessment."

"The Russian military lies, manipulates and misrepresents reality at Zaporizhzhia NPP by disseminating only information on the IAEA mission visit it could benefit from," The Ukrainian nuclear power provider, Energoatom, said Friday.

On the other hand, pro-Russian officials in the occupied area are blaming the Ukrainians for impeding the IAEA's work. An official said that Ukraine "did not stop" shelling "but their intensity significantly decreased" during the visit.

7:13 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

If G7 price cap on Russian oil materializes, oil markets will destabilize, Kremlin says

From CNN’s Anna Chernova  

If G7 leaders decide to impose price caps on Russian oil, it will lead to a significant destabilization of oil markets, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

“One thing we can say with certainty: making such a decision will lead to a significant destabilization of oil markets,” Peskov told CNN on a conference call when asked if a potential price cap will hurt Russia financially.

On Friday, G7 finance ministers are expected to meet to discuss setting a price cap on Russian oil. 
The Biden administration has been pushing for governments to introduce a price cap.

“This is the most effective way, we believe, to hit hard at Putin's revenue, and doing so will result in not only a drop in Putin's oil revenue, but also global energy prices as well,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier this week.

The British finance minister, Nadeem Zahawi, said Thursday he was hopeful that G7 ministers would strike a deal.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told reporters Thursday that, should such restrictions be imposed, Russia will suspend oil and petroleum supplies to states which limit the price of its oil.

Peskov confirmed Novak’s statement Friday saying that Russia will not have oil trade with countries that will join these restrictions.

“Those countries that join the potential price ceiling will not be among the recipients of Russian oil,” he said adding that the Russian oil will go to “alternative directions” instead.

Peskov refused to name the alternative oil partners Russia is planning to trade with, but said “they are more numerous than before.”

6:55 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Russian defense minister denies any heavy weapons at nuclear plant, as the blame game continues

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian forces "do not have heavy weapons in the area of ​​the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," as each side continues to accuse one another of shelling the plant and surrounding area.

Lack of access makes it impossible to verify the claims.

During a conference call Friday at the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, Shoigu said, "The Ukrainian authorities openly lie that the Russian Armed Forces, hiding behind important energy facilities, are shelling the Armed Forces of Ukraine from long-range artillery systems."

"I responsibly declare that we do not have heavy weapons on the territory of the nuclear power plant and in the surrounding areas. I hope the IAEA commission will be convinced of this," he said.

Shoigu said that since mid-July the Ukrainian military "have been regularly attacking the infrastructure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," and that 29 attacks had been registered since July 18.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian nuclear power provider, Energoatom, said on Friday that "the Russian military lies, manipulates and misrepresents reality at Zaporizhzhia NPP by disseminating only information on the IAEA mission visit it could benefit from."

7:41 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Ukraine, Russia accuse each other of trying to subvert IAEA mission to nuclear power plant

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

A Russian all-terrain armoured vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in Ukraine, on September 1.
A Russian all-terrain armoured vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in Ukraine, on September 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian and Russian agencies continue to accuse each other of trying to subvert the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency to safeguard the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Ukrainian nuclear power provider, Energoatom, said Friday: "The Russian military lies, manipulates and misrepresents reality at Zaporizhzhia NPP by disseminating only information on the IAEA mission visit it could benefit from."

It also accused the Russians of trying to prevent the International Atomic Energy Agency mission from getting to know the facts on the ground."

Energoatom also said: "Military trucks, deployed in the turbine halls of power units in breach of all fire safety requirements, were presented to the IAEA experts as equipment of the chemical defense forces. The Russian military tries to hide all the nuclear and radiation safety violations created by it." 

"Only operative personnel were allowed to work at the Zaporizhzhia NPP while the presence of people on the routes of IAEA delegation members was significantly limited," Energoatom said.
"It is clear that under such conditions it will be difficult for IAEA to make an impartial assessment of the situation at ZNPP."

For their part, pro-Russian officials in the occupied area are blaming the Ukrainians for impeding the IAEA's work.

Alexander Volga, head of the military-civil administration of Enerhodar, claimed Friday that "the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not stop, but their intensity significantly decreased," and that technicians continued to work on restoring power lines damaged "as a result of the massive shelling of Enerhodar from the Ukrainian side."

Volga said the IAEA team still at the plant "was provided with relevant documents on the nuclear power plant, as well as a map of shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

Most of the IAEA mission left the plant after a visit of several hours Thursday, but a small team remains behind. The IAEA director general, Rafael Grossi, vowed the agency would have a continuing presence at the plant.

7:41 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

There are limits to what UN inspectors will say about the nuclear plant

From CNN's Tim Lister

Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to the press before leaving from the hotel with the delegation to inspect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on September 1.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to the press before leaving from the hotel with the delegation to inspect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on September 1. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The day after the highly publicized International Atomic Energy Agency visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a team of five inspectors remains at the site. 

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said that the UN nuclear watchdog is "not going anywhere" and will have a "continued presence" at the plant.

A prolonged IAEA presence there would likely help to stave off the possibility of a dangerous nuclear accident. However, it’s not entirely clear what that continued presence might look like.   

Grossi -- who left the plant on Thursday -- said that he would be reporting to the agency's Board of Governors "and then we are establishing a continued presence there...so that they can continue to provide me and all of us with the impartial, neutral, technically sound assessment of whatever it may be happening there.”

Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have demanded that the IAEA press for the demilitarization of the area around the plant, which is currently held by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his Thursday video message that demilitarization was "the goal of Ukrainian and international efforts. And it is bad that we have not yet heard the appropriate call from the IAEA. Although we talked about it with Mr. Grossi at our meeting in Kyiv. It was the key -- the key -- security point of our agreements: demilitarization and full control by our nuclear workers."

But such a move would be beyond the IAEA's limited mandate -- and the agency shows no sign of addressing it.

Instead, Grossi stressed the technical nature of the visit while in Zaporizhzhia and the examination of what he called "three or four key areas" at the plant, including emergency systems and control rooms 

The so-called “seven pillars” of the agency's framework include the physical integrity of facilities, their safety systems, secure off-site power supply, effective radiation monitoring systems and reliable communications with the regulator.

Some background:

The plant and the area around it, including the adjacent city of Enerhodar, have endured persistent shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear accident through the interruption of the power supply to the facility. Each side accuses the other of acts of nuclear terrorism.

Russia has insisted the military presence at the plant is to protect it; Ukraine says that the Russians are using the territory of the plant to fire at Ukrainian-held territory on the other side of the river Dnipro.

What now?

Each side is working hard to present its version of the situation to the IAEA team.

The Ukrainian side is concerned that even at the plant, the Russians will seek to withhold the reality from the inspectors. On Thursday, Zelensky said:  "We have specific information that Russia has done a lot of cynical things in order to deceive the [IAEA] mission." It was a theme picked up Friday by Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom, who said on Telegram: "The Russian occupiers are making every effort to prevent the International Atomic Energy Agency mission from getting to know the facts on the ground at the Zaporizhzhia NPP.”

Alexander Volga, head of the Russian-backed military-civil administration of Enerhodar, said Friday that the IAEA team "was provided with relevant documents on the nuclear power plant, as well as a map of shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

The IAEA will tread carefully, sticking to its seven pillars in pursuing a strictly technical path to ensure the plant's systems are in working order and that it has an uninterrupted power supply. 

7:41 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Ukrainian energy minister says IAEA should insist on demilitarization of nuclear plant

From CNN's Tim Lister

A Russian soldier stands guard near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following the arrival of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in Ukraine, on September 1.
A Russian soldier stands guard near the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following the arrival of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in Ukraine, on September 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko on Friday urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to insist that a military presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is unacceptable.

Halushchenko said on Ukrainian television that "The IAEA mission must state that the presence of the military, the presence of weapons at the station is a real threat to nuclear safety. This is obvious."

After a relatively quiet night around the plant and in the nearby city of Enerhodar, Halushchenko said the IAEA specialists at the site "can rise to another level by assessing such significant violations of nuclear safety." 

"The part of the mission that is currently left on the station will be key one. It is planned that it will stay there for three to four days," Halushchenko said.

"Recommendations and reports of the IAEA should be sent to Ukraine, the operating organization of the ZNPP — Energoatom. And we must implement these recommendations ... But for that we need to have access to the station. It should be returned under the control of Ukraine," Halushchenko said.

Shutdown risks: Halushchenko said a controlled shutdown of the plant would not alleviate the risks there. 

"Whether the power plant releases the energy to the grid or not does not affect the issue of the nuclear safety. Because even if the power plant does not operate and does not produce the energy — the nuclear material is still there ... in the holding pools, and in the storage of the spent fuel on the Zaporizhzhia NPP," he said.

"So while the nuclear material is still there, there is still a certain hazard present."