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Ukraine’s state nuclear company, Enerhoatom, said one of two operating reactors at its Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has been reconnected to the power grid after being disconnected for the first time in its history. on August 25 following a fire caused by what Kyiv says was a Russian bombardment.

“Today…at 2:04 p.m., one of the electrical units of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant that shut down yesterday was connected to the power grid,” Enerhoatom said in a statement on Aug. 26.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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On the battlefield, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said its forces repelled Russian assaults on the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region and struck ammunition depots and enemy personnel in the southern region of Kherson.

Previously, Enerhoatom said there were no problems with the plant’s machinery or its safety systems, as electricity for the plant’s own needs was currently supplied by a power line from the Ukrainian power system. .

He said work was underway to restore the grid connection of the plant’s two operating reactors.

On August 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a nuclear disaster had been narrowly averted after Russian bombardment in the region caused power to Zaporizhzhya, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, to go out during hours.

Russian shelling sparked fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal-fired power plant that disconnected the Russian power plant from the power grid on August 25, Zelenskiy said, but emergency diesel generators provided vital power supply for the plant’s cooling and safety systems.

Russia has denied responsibility, with officials based in Moscow in the Zaporizhzhya region blaming the fire and subsequent breakdown on Ukrainian armed forces.

Zelenskiy praised the Ukrainian technicians who operate the plant which has been under the control of the Russian army since the start of the war. The plant has six Soviet-designed reactors, but only two remained in service amid the fighting.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans on the brink of a radioactive disaster,” he added.

Disconnecting the plant from the grid was a potential hazard because a failure of the emergency power systems could have led to a loss of coolant and caused fuel meltdown in the reactor core.

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Foreign officials have warned of a potential catastrophe and continue to push Russian and Ukrainian forces to do more to protect Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Russia has controlled the facility for about two weeks after invading Ukraine on February 24, keeping workers prisoner and holding them at gunpoint to operate the plant, whose first reactor entered service in 1985 .

Western leaders demanded that Russia return the plant to Ukraine, while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for its “demilitarization”.

On August 26, French President Emmanuel Macron warned against using civilian nuclear facilities as an instrument of war.

“The war must in no way undermine the nuclear safety of the country, the region and all of us. Civilian nuclear energy must be fully protected,” Macron said during a visit to Algeria.

Western leaders have previously demanded that Russia return the plant to Ukraine, while the UN chief called for its “demilitarization”. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has declared its intention to send a mission to inspect the plant.

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on August 25: “Russia should accept the demilitarized zone around the plant and agree to allow a visit from the International atomic energy as soon as possible to verify the safety and security of the system.”

The Ukrainian General Staff meanwhile said that Russian forces had carried out unsuccessful offensive operations in the direction of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region and continued to shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, as well as Kramatorsk, Novopavlivka , Zaporizhzhya and the Pivdenniy Buh river region. with artillery, tank and rocket fire.

The Russian offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine has slowed in recent weeks, apparently hampered by heavy personnel and material losses, despite Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s recent assertion that Moscow was reducing intentionally pace in order to avoid collateral damage among civilians.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on August 26, that Shoigu’s statement was “almost certainly deliberate misinformation”.

British intelligence said the Russian offensive had stalled due to poor Russian military performance and fierce Ukrainian resistance.

He said Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin “most likely” fired at least six generals for not advancing fast enough.

The intelligence report says a Russian missile strike on a train station in central Ukraine on August 24 that Moscow said targeted a Ukrainian military train highlighted “Russia’s willingness to cause collateral damage when ‘it perceives that there is a military advantage in launching missile or artillery strikes’.

The strike left at least 25 people dead, including children, Kyiv said, while the Russian Defense Ministry claimed, without producing any evidence, that the strike targeted and killed more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers who were on their way to fight in the Donbass.

Neither the Russian nor Ukrainian claims could be independently verified.