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
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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."

3:58 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Ukraine claims Russia has suffered "significant losses" in south

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Tim Lister

Russian forces have suffered "significant losses" in the southern region of Kherson following the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched earlier this week, Ukraine's military said Friday.

"The enemy suffers quite significant losses — losses in manpower have gone from tens to hundreds. Equipment also burns. [...] Therefore, our successes are quite convincing, and I think very soon we will be able to disclose more positive news," said Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military in the south.
"We continue to destroy the enemy in terms of its logistics, capabilities, capacities. Ammunition warehouses explode, pontoon crossings explode. It means that the enemy's logistics and transport connections are undermined to such an extent that they cannot raise reserves."

Operational Command South claimed that a range of targets had been struck, including a ferry crossing.

"Our air forces carried out 18 strikes on command and support posts, warehouses with ammunition and fuel and lubricants, as well as logistics and transport facilities," it said. 

According to Operational Command South, three important bridges across the Dnipro river— Antonivskyi, Kakhovskyi and Dariivskyi — are ongoing targets.

Ukrainian forces have been trying to prevent Russian troops from resupplying their units north of the river, essentially cutting off Russian defensive positions.

However, Russian forces continue to shell more than a dozen Ukrainian settlements behind a front line that runs roughly along Kherson's northern border.

There has been little indication of territory changing hands in the area. 

2:46 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Stranded cargo vessel carrying Ukrainian corn towed to safety

From CNN's Josh Pennington 

The cargo ship ran aground in the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 1.
The cargo ship ran aground in the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 1. (Islam Yakut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A cargo vessel carrying 3,000 metric tons of corn from Ukraine that was stranded in the Bosporus Strait has been anchored and traffic has resumed, Turkey's General Directorate of Coastal Safety said Friday. 

The ship, Lady Zehma, was traveling from the Black Sea to Ravena, Italy when it ran aground due to rudder failure and became stranded on Thursday. 

The ship has been towed and is now anchored in Istanbul's Bebek Bay, the General Directorate tweeted Friday. 

Traffic had been suspended, but has since resumed, it added. 

2:17 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Russia says it will suspend oil and petrol supplies if price caps imposed

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh

Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery on the southeastern outskirts of Moscow, Russia, on April 28.
Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery on the southeastern outskirts of Moscow, Russia, on April 28. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahead of a G7 meeting to discuss setting a price cap on Russian oil, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would no longer supply places 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, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

G7 finance ministers are expected to meet Friday to discuss setting a price cap on Russian oil. 

"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 Wednesday, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Novak called the proposals to impose restrictions "completely absurd" and said they could destroy the global oil market, TASS reported.

7:40 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

IAEA inspectors visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant despite shelling

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Olga Voitovych, Sarah Dean, Hannah Ritchie and Tara John

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi speaks with members of the media after inspecting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on September 1.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi speaks with members of the media after inspecting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on September 1. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Most of the international team of nuclear experts visiting the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday have left, after overcoming initial challenges in reaching the facility, including an hours-long delay and a drive through an active war zone.

The visit by the team of 14 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including its chief Rafael Grossi, came at a crucial moment for the plant, which has endured constant shelling and raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Their trip was mired in risk as shelling had broken out on Thursday, with both Russian and Ukrainian officials confirming that the nearby city of Enerhodar had endured a morning of bombardment.

Mortar shelling by Russians forced one of the the plant's two working reactors to shut down on the same day, Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom said Thursday, while Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of shelling the IAEA mission's pre-agreed route to the plant.

Grossi said that his team were determined to visit the plant, despite the bombardment. "Having come this far, I was not going to stop and with my courageous team we moved in. There were moments where fire was obvious," he told reporters after the visit.

"Heavy machine gun artillery, mortars two or three times were really pretty concerning, I would say, for all of us. We had splendid support from the United Nations Security team that is here with me as well. So I think we showed that the international community is there, could be there — and we are continuing this," he added.

Ongoing mission: The IAEA chief has now left the plant, however Grossi said the UN nuclear watchdog is "not going anywhere" and will have a "continued presence" there.

"We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there at the plant and it's not moving. It's going to stay there. We're going to have a continued presence there at the plant," he said.

Read more here.

12:41 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Ukrainians say Russians are making no progress in Donetsk offensive 

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian servicemen fire at a position in the Donetsk region on August 26.
Ukrainian servicemen fire at a position in the Donetsk region on August 26. (Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters)

The Ukrainian military says the situation in the eastern Donetsk region is virtually unchanged, despite weeks of efforts by Russian forces and their allies in the Donbas militias to take new territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's declared objective is to take all of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, but Ukrainian forces still control more than one-third of Donetsk.

The Ukrainian military's General Staff said Thursday that once again the Russians had tried to attack in several directions, toward the city of Sloviansk and the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

In each instance, the General Staff said, Russian forces had been unsuccessful and had withdrawn.

It spoke of heavy attacks with tanks, artillery and mortars in the south where Ukrainian forces are trying to weaken Russian defenses.

According to the General Staff, the Russians had fired on 15 settlements in the region, mostly along the borders of Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, which have been an active front line for more than two months.

12:45 a.m. ET, September 2, 2022

Ukrainian prosecutors identify Russian soldier suspected of shooting civilians from CNN report

From CNN's Sara Sidner, Lauren Kent, Victoria Butenko, Sandi Sidhu and Kostyantyn Gak

Surveillance camera footage obtained by CNN shows the suspect inside the dealership, which the group of Russian soldiers looted.
Surveillance camera footage obtained by CNN shows the suspect inside the dealership, which the group of Russian soldiers looted. (Obtained by CNN)

It was a chilling shooting: Russian soldiers caught on camera killing unarmed Ukrainian civilians as they walked away from an encounter on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.

CNN first reported on the shooting in May, after obtaining exclusive surveillance video of what is being investigated as a war crime, a shooting targeting civilians.

Now, Ukrainian prosecutors say they have informed Russia that their pre-trial investigation has zeroed in one of the Russian perpetrators they believe is responsible.

The Bucha Prosecutors' Office in the Kyiv region says CNN's exclusive reporting was instrumental in helping identify the Russian soldier.

Prosecutors say the suspect is Nikolay Sergeevich Sokovikov, adding that Russia was informed of his charges of "violation of the laws and customs of war" and "intentional murder."

CNN has requested comment from Russia's defense ministry but has not had a response. CNN also asked the Russian MOD for response to our original report in May and never received a reply.

Read the full story here.