Day 253 of the Invasion of Ukraine: When will Russia use Nuclear Weapons?
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
The Zaporizhzhia NPP has been disconnected from the power grid after Russian shelling
The Zaporizhzhia NPP was disconnected from the power grid after Russian shelling, announced the Ukrainian plant operator Energoatom.
High-voltage lines were damaged, which is why the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could only rely on diesel generators. The plant has fuel reserves for the generators for 15 days, Energoatom states, adding that the 5th and 6th reactors have been switched to cold mode.
Putin: Russia may again abandon the grain deal
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to back out of the Ukraine grain deal if Kyiv violates Moscow's security guarantees.
"Russia reserves the right to leave these agreements if these guarantees are violated by Ukraine," Putin said.
Putin added that even if Moscow withdraws again, it "will not interfere" in grain supplies from Ukraine to Turkey, AFP reported.
He cited Turkey's neutrality, "the capabilities of the grain processing industry of the Turkish Republic" and the mediation efforts of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as reasons for Moscow's position.
Putin spoke to Erdogan before Russia announced it was re-entering the deal.
The Russian president said that even if Russia pulls out of the deal again, it will continue to "deliver free of charge the entire amount (of grain) that has so far been delivered from the territory of Ukraine to the poorest countries."
Earlier Russia resumed its participation in the deal reached with the mediation of the UN. Moscow has received written security guarantees from Ukraine regarding the demilitarization of the maritime corridor.
Russia with a statement on the cases in which it may resort to nuclear weapons
Russia has released a statement on the cases in which it may resort to the use of nuclear weapons. The text, entitled "Statement of the Russian Federation on the Prevention of Nuclear War", was published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In it, Moscow states that "a reaction using nuclear weapons is hypothetically permitted by Russia only in response to aggression carried out using weapons of mass destruction or aggression using conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened."
Amidst reports in the world media about the strengthening of the Russian nuclear threat, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the world community to prevent a nuclear war.
The statement added that Moscow is in favor of ensuring global strategic security and asks the countries of the "nuclear five" not to encourage provocations using weapons of mass destruction.
"In the current situation, resulting from irresponsible actions aimed at undermining our national security, the priority task is to prevent any military confrontation of nuclear forces," is said in the statement.
Here is the full text of the statement published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the nuclear powers, in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Russian Federation bears a special responsibility for strengthening international security and strategic stability.
In implementing its policy in the field of nuclear deterrence, Russia is strictly and consistently guided by the postulate of the inadmissibility of a nuclear war in which there can be no winners and which must never be launched. Russian doctrinal guidelines in this area are extremely clearly defined, have a purely defensive character and do not allow for expansive interpretation. A response with the use of nuclear weapons is hypothetically permitted by Russia only in response to aggression carried out using WMD (weapons of mass destruction.), or aggression using conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.
Russia proceeds from the unchanging importance of existing agreements and arrangements in the field of reduction and limitation of nuclear weapons, reduction of strategic risks and the threat of international incidents and conflicts fraught with escalation to the nuclear level.
We fully reaffirm our commitment to the Joint Statement by the Leaders of the Five Nuclear Powers on the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Prevention of an Arms Race of January 3, 2022. We firmly believe that in the current difficult and turbulent situation, which has become the result of irresponsible and shameless actions aimed at undermining our national security, the first priority is to prevent any military confrontation of nuclear forces.
We call on the remaining countries of the nuclear five to demonstrate in practice their readiness to work towards the solution of this priority task and to abandon dangerous attempts to harm the vital interests of the other side, balancing on the edge of direct armed conflict and encouraging provocations with WMD, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
Russia continues to advocate the formation of a renewed, more stable architecture of international security, based on ensuring predictability and global strategic stability, as well as observing the principles of equality, indivisible security and mutual respect for the main interests of the countries.”
Like 80 years ago: Ukrainians produce "trench candles" for the front
A group of Ukrainian volunteers is making "trench candles" from tin cans for troops serving on the front line, amid an energy crisis caused by Russian missile strikes that is affecting both the military and civilians, Reuters reports.
Russian forces have increasingly attacked Ukraine's infrastructure, including power plants and the power grid, causing regular blackouts and disruptions to heating and water supplies.
Trench candles consist of empty galvanized paint or pet food cans filled with corrugated cardboard and paraffin. Most importantly, they provide both heat and light. Candles have been used by troops in previous conflicts, including World War II.
"(Candles) can be used to dry a trench, to cook food, which is very important, to boil water and to warm people," said 28-year-old Nino Nazarova, the organizer of the initiative.
When Nazarova secured 10,000 boxes from a factory in northern Ukraine a few weeks ago, she thought it would take months to turn them into trench candles, but volunteers completed the task during an event Sunday at a cultural center in Kyiv, singing Ukrainian folk songs during work.
"These boxes have a lid. So you can close them up, throw them in boiling water, heat them up, and then put them under your coat," she explains. Thus, they give off heat for a long time.
This initiative alone has so far provided more than 3,000 multifunctional candles for the Ukrainian trenches in the southern and eastern parts of the country, adds Nazarova. It is believed that candles can burn for up to five or six hours. Part of the advantages are that they do not smoke and can be placed in a dug hole and so at night the light cannot be seen if the soldier is out in the open.
Polina Sheremet, a co-organizer, says that the more Russian missiles rain down on Ukraine, the stronger their motivation to help the army becomes.
"People's desire to donate and help grows along with the risk of missile strikes and other attacks. That's how human nature works," she adds.
Some children joined their parents during Sunday's candle making, including Gordius, who came with his mother to help.
"In the beginning (the war) was really scary, but now I'm a bit used to it," he says, handing out strips of cardboard to volunteers.
UNHCR: 14 million Ukrainians displaced from their homes since the Russian invasion
14 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes since the start of Ukraine's invasion on February 24 this year, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has said.
In a briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday, the UN refugee chief said, "The Russian invasion of Ukraine has driven the fastest and largest displacement witnessed in decades. Some 14 million people have been forced from their homes since the 24th of February." Filippo Grandi warned the Ukrainians are about to face one of the world's harshest winters in extremely difficult circumstances. "Humanitarian organizations have dramatically scaled up their response, but much more must be done, starting with an end to this senseless war," he said.
As the war continues to prolong in Ukraine, the UN refugee chief said the destruction caused by strikes at civilian infrastructure is quickly making the humanitarian response look like a drop in the ocean of needs.
He said UNHCR's focus is increasingly on helping displaced people in Ukraine, working under the government's able leadership. Of the neighbouring countries, Moldova continues to need special attention, given its vulnerability.
"Meanwhile in the European Union, we have seen an open, well managed and above all shared refugee response that has proven wrong many of the statements frequently repeated by some politicians: that Europe is full; that relocation is impossible; that there is no public support for refugees," he added.
Over UNHCR's response to the crisis in Ukraine, Grandi said that they are maintaining a high level of preparedness for further population movements, both inside and outside Ukraine, taking into account different possible scenarios and the scope and limitations of humanitarian assistance.
It has responded to 37 emergencies around the world in the past 12 months alone, in countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Syria.
G7 ministers will discuss support for Ukraine and China's new role
G7 foreign ministers will discuss ways to coordinate further support for Ukraine following intense Russian attacks on the country's energy infrastructure.
European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said during her visit to Kyiv this week that the European Union, together with its partners, is exploring options for increasing aid to Ukraine's energy sector. According to her, Kyiv needs specific equipment and tools to restore the infrastructure damage.
China's new role on the world stage and the protests in Iran will also be discussed at the meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in the German city of Münster. The topic of allowing Chinese investments in a terminal at the port of Hamburg is also expected to be on the agenda.
Zelensky thanked Erdogan for preserving the grain deal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his "active participation in preserving" the grain deal.
In a telephone conversation with Erdoğan, Zelensky also thanked the Turkish president for his "unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Anadolu Agency reported.
According to a statement from Turkey's Communications Directorate, Erdogan stressed that Ukrainian and Russian grain exports are of crucial importance to the world.
It is necessary to intensify diplomatic efforts to end the war based on the full restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, he told Zelensky.
Handelsblatt: Europe suddenly realized how dependent it is on Rosatom
The EU as a whole is 20% dependent on Russian nuclear fuel, while Eastern European countries are 100% dependent, according to an analysis by Germany's leading business newspaper Handelsblatt.
Despite political enmity with Russia, France continues to work closely with Rosatom. Germany's environment ministry has called for sanctions against the Russian state-owned corporation for the first time. And this decision is late.
Nuclear power seems to be some kind of alternative to Russian gas. By betting on nuclear power, however, we fall into a thorn in the side of a hawthorn. According to a study by the Austrian Environmental Protection Agency, "the use of nuclear energy has not led to energy security, but has made countries operating nuclear power plants dependent on Russia."
However, there is one thing that sets nuclear power apart: it is not subject to EU sanctions. "At the insistence of France," says the German government.
All roads lead to Moscow when it comes to operating and building nuclear power plants. Rosatom and its 300 subsidiaries operate and build more nuclear power plants worldwide than any other country.
According to a study by Viennese scientists, "Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are 100% dependent on Russian uranium, while the EU as a whole is 20% dependent." Further, the Viennese draw a frightening conclusion: "This is more than Russia's share of gas supplies to Europe." About half of the uranium enriched by Rosatom goes to EU countries and the United Kingdom.
Rosatom owes its success to its well-established international relations, especially with France. Unfortunately, Russia has a track record of cooperation there with the state-owned electricity monopoly EDF (Electricity de France), the fuel company Orano and the nuclear equipment manufacturer Framatom. This company is engaged in the production of nuclear weapons for the French army, but meanwhile, in recent years, Rosatom has signed countless agreements with it.
One of Rosatom's managers in Western Europe even graduated from the Higher Polytechnic School of the French Army.
This close cooperation has created a dependency that manifests itself in four ways: first, France receives enriched uranium from Russia, usually through a subsidiary of Framatom, namely ANF, based in Lingen, northern Germany. Between March 2020 and September 2022 alone, 26 shipments of uranium pellets and uranium hexafluoride arrived there.
Second, France exports spent uranium from its nuclear power plants to Russia, including through Lingen. It is enriched again in Tomsk, since the Orano company itself does not have the necessary equipment. The fresh fuel is used in EDF's most powerful reactors, which are currently undergoing modernization.
"Treaties usually provide that the part that can no longer be used, namely the largest part, remains in Russia," says one of the experts. Plutonium is also released, which can be used to make weapons.
The EU bans the export of nuclear waste, but spent uranium is treated as raw material. Through this ploy, France gets rid of nuclear waste, especially since its own temporary storage facilities are overflowing. Orano has built spent uranium processing lines in Russia.
Third aspect of dependence: Rosatom uses Framatom, EDF or Schneider Electric when building nuclear power plants in other countries. In such cases, the French supply turbines, control equipment or safety systems. For the Russian reactors under construction in Hungary and Egypt, EU-based companies Framatom and Siemens manufacture the power transmission equipment.
"French companies are involved in the construction of the Russian reactors and are making good money from it," said Roger Spautz of Greenpeace France. France has even emerged as a grateful force: in 2018, Rosatom and Framatom agreed that the French would help one of Rosatom's subsidiaries obtain EU certification.
A fourth aspect of dependence is emerging before our eyes: last year Air Liquide and EDF agreed with Rosatom to produce climate-saving "green hydrogen" - in France, Russia and elsewhere. When asked by Handelsblatt, EDF replied that the agreement was temporarily suspended.
Russia's energy strategy is far-sighted
Far-sighted Russians occupy another key position in energy supplies to Europe. By tackling a complex component like wind generator magnets, they have another advantage up their sleeve.
Despite numerous inquiries, Framatom refuses to give an assessment of its cooperation with Rosatom. The German subsidiary of "Rosatom" - Nukem, which employs 125 people, is a little more open. The company's CEO, Thomas Seipolt, responded to Handelsblatt's inquiry: it turns out that after February 24 this year, "only a tiny fraction of the orders were canceled."
In order to strengthen its cooperation with Russia, Framatom even wants to sell its part in its German plant in Lingen. Off the record, the federal government has made it clear that it doesn't think this is a good idea. But officially, the sale offer is still on the table.
Rosatom is also involved in the nuclear arming of the Russian military and Putin's invasion policy. In Ukraine, Russian employees of Rosatom allow themselves to work at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has pushed for strengthening EU sovereignty, nevertheless maintains a relationship with Rosatom.
In contrast, the German government has distanced itself from Rosatom. The Federal Environment Ministry told the Handelsblatt press that it supports the "expansion of EU sanctions" against Russia's nuclear sector. It is true that there is a clarification: "This measure is under discussion with the European partners." This political decision is clearly overdue.
UN rejects Russian claims of US labs in Ukraine
The UN Security Council did not support a Russian resolution on biological weapons, with only its importers and China voting for it.
The resolution is based on Moscow's claims that US research laboratories developing biological weapons were located in Ukraine before the war. It is pushing for the creation of a special commission to investigate the Russian suspicions.
Moscow needed nine votes in the 15-member UN Security Council to approve the draft resolution, but only Russia and China voted for it. The USA, Great Britain and France voted against, and the remaining 10 countries abstained, reports BTA.
The draft resolution was perceived as a new attempt by the Kremlin to impose its unsubstantiated claims, DPA notes. Moscow has repeatedly made these claims, which have been criticized in the past by Ukraine, the US and other Western countries as part of a propaganda campaign.
Earlier, Russia sent a formal complaint to the Security Council and the UN Secretary-General regarding the activities of US biological laboratories in Ukraine and circulated a draft resolution according to which the UN Security Council "decided to form a commission consisting of all members of Security Council to investigate the claims against the United States presented in the Russian complaint and Ukraine regarding compliance with the obligations under the convention in the context of the activities of biological laboratories on Ukrainian territory," reports the Russian Interfax news agency.
Russia's claims about the existence of such laboratories in Ukraine, moreover, owned by the US military, are not supported by facts. That didn't stop China from officially spreading them either, adding that the US has many more similar labs in other countries. China also provides no evidence for its claims.
The claim of biolabs researching dangerous viruses and pathogens in Ukraine is one of the prevalent narratives of Russia's disinformation war, which Moscow used to justify its invasion of Ukraine in February.
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