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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the accusations made by Russia that Ukraine was preparing to use a “so-called dirty bomb" — calling them baseless, according to a readout of the call released by the German Chancellery on Monday.
In a phone call on between the two leaders, Scholz agreed with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that independent investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency would remove any doubt about Ukraine-initiated preparation of such a bomb, the readout said.
The IAEA said Monday that investigators had begun their inspection of two locations that Russia said Ukraine was using to develop such bombs. Agency’s chief Rafael Grossi is expected to provide his initial conclusions later this week.
Scholz also said that Germany will continue to provide “concrete political, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine” as well as “defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including in arms deliveries.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that repair work continues after Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's power infrastructure — and that a majority of the missiles fired had been brought down by air defenses.
"At this time, restoration works are still ongoing in the regions where Russian missiles hit today. We are doing everything possible to restore energy and water supply," Zelensky said in his daily video message Monday.
"If someone in the Kremlin has listened to their crazy propagandists and decided that the darkness in Ukraine will help pressure Ukrainians, then let them not be surprised with their losses when they see how Ukrainians are conducting "negotiations" in the dark," he added.
Zelensky repeated the military's statement that of the 55 cruise missiles fired, 45 were shot down.
"For every ten hits, the terrorists have to expend at least four times more missiles," Zelensky said. "Russia's performance on drones is even worse, including those supplied by their Iranian allies."
"The wreckage of a Russian missile that fell on the territory of Moldova only reminds us how important it is to defend ourselves together against this evil," Zelensky added.
Some context: Several houses were damaged Monday in the Moldovan village of Naslavcea – on the border with Ukraine – after a missile shot down by the Ukrainian forces hit the northern part of the village, according to the Interior Ministry of Moldova.
Experts from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency have started their inspection at two locations that Russia said Ukraine was using to develop "dirty bombs," a statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday.
Russia has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine is conspiring to use a “dirty bomb” — a device that contains nuclear materials along with traditional explosives — in what Moscow says would be a false flag operation to blame Russia.
The claims have been rejected by Ukraine as well as its Western allies, including the US and the UK.
The inspections are being carried out after a written request from Ukraine following Moscow’s claims, the statement said, adding that the agency’s chief Rafael Grossi would provide his “initial conclusions” later this week.
Russians continue to evacuate civilians from Kherson while fortifying their defenses in the region, a Ukrainian official said.
"Russian occupiers continue to evacuate the civilian population of Kherson and the west bank of Kherson region. In addition, they are looting all the property they can find — from equipment to ambulances," said Serhii Khlan, a member of the Kherson Regional Council, said during a Monday briefing.
Ukrainian forces have been making advances along the west bank of the river Dnipro.
Khlan said the looted property was being taken to the town of Skadovsk, close to Crimea. CNN is unable to verify the claim.
He also said that the Russians were building fortifications further south along the east bank, close to where the Dnipro empties into the Black Sea.
The civilian evacuation zone in the partially Russian-occupied Kherson region has been expanded to 15 kilometers from the river Dnipro, the region’s pro-Russian proxy leader announced on Monday.
"In connection with the possibility of the use of prohibited methods of war by the Ukrainian regime, as well as available information about the preparation by Kyiv of a massive missile attack on the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, there is an immediate danger of flooding of the territory of the Kherson region, massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and a humanitarian catastrophe," Vladimir Saldo said in a Telegram post.
"This applies to the settlements of the Nova Kakhovka urban district, Golopristansky, Aleshkinsky, Kakhovka, Gornostaevsky, Velikolepetikhsky and Verkhnerogachiksky municipal districts," he said.
Saldo claimed that the Kherson region remains under "the reliable protection of the Russian army,” and that the decision to expand the evacuation zone will create "a layered defense that will make it possible to repel the attack of Ukrainian troops and protect civilians."
The Ukrainian leaders-in-exile of the Kherson region have accused the Russian-backed leaders of drumming up “hysteria” to intimidate the population.
Russian energy giant Gazprom was allowed to inspect the site of the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.
"Today, (Gazprom CEO Alexey) Miller reported in the morning that it had been examined. By the way, Gazprom was allowed to inspect the site of the explosion," Putin told journalists at a news conference following meetings with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Russian city of Sochi.
Putin described how the pipe that was torn out was “bent at 90 degrees and thrown as far as 40 meters to the side, just in the direction of Nord Stream 2, which also turned out to be damaged, apparently by this explosion and fragments, the remains of this pipe."
"So this is an obvious terrorist attack, and it's hard for us to control it, because it's all in the special economic zone of Denmark, Sweden, then beyond Germany," the Russian president said.
More background: In September, European countries raced to investigate unexplained leaks in two Russian gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark.
Both pipelines have been flashpoints in an escalating energy war between European capitals and Moscow that has pummelled major Western economies, sent gas prices soaring and sparked a hunt for alternative energy supplies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow's fresh onslaught on Ukraine earlier in the day was partly in response to the attack on Russia's fleet in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Saturday, which he blamed on Kyiv.
When asked by a reporter if Monday's strikes were a response to Saturday's drone attacks in Crimea, Putin said:
"Partly it is indeed so. But that's not all we could do."
Russia launched missile attacks on infrastructure facilities in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, leaving parts of the capital without electricity and water.
When asked about the possibility of peace talks with Ukraine, Putin said: "In order to start making proposals at the talks, the talks need to take place first. And laying out your negotiating position on the table in advance is not always advisable in order to achieve your national goals."
"But in order to achieve agreements, you need to sit down at the negotiating table and negotiate," he added.
The Russian leader blamed Ukraine for throwing "in the bin" the agreement reached in Istanbul earlier this year while signing the Black Sea grain export deal.
"And now, in general, they forbid themselves to talk with us. Well, how can we now discuss possible agreements if there is not even a desire on the other side to talk to us? We will wait, maybe some necessary conditions will ripen. And our goodwill is known — it is not subject to any changes and doubts," he added.
President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia was suspending but “not ending” its participation in the vital Black Sea grain export deal with Ukraine.
Russia's decision came after "the creation of a threat" to the humanitarian corridor, Putin said at a news conference following meetings with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the southern Russian city of Sochi.
Russia on Saturday announced that it was suspending its involvement in the UN-brokered agreement viewed as key to addressing the global food shortage.
Moscow said it was leaving the deal after blaming Ukraine for a drone attack on Crimea on Saturday. Kyiv accused Russia of inventing “fictitious terrorist attacks” and using the deal as “blackmail.”
“The whole process of exporting grain from Ukraine's territory was organized under the pretext of ensuring the interests of the poorest countries. And we did this precisely in the interests of the poorest countries," Putin said.